Service of Summons via Social Media

Sometimes, a defendant manages to dodge service of summons quite skillfully.  A colleague of mine once resorted to serving a  defendant with summons at the defendant’s daughter’s wedding because the defendant had successfully dodged many prior service attempts.

Now, an Australian court has authorized service of summons by notifying the defendant via Facebook (sidebar note at p. 10 of this PDF).

And why not? If it hasn’t already happened here, it probably will eventually. California law (Code Civ. Proc., § 415.50) already allows for service of summons by publication in newspapers in certain cases when a plaintiff shows that “the party to be served cannot with reasonable diligence be served in another manner specified in this article.” A Facebook posting is probably far more likely to actually reach the defendant than is notice by publication in a newspaper. At least so long as the defendant’s Facebook account has not gone stale.

We now have e-filing and e-service of other papers. Summonses may be the last holdout, but they can’t hold out forever.

Conceivably, service would even be possible via Twitter with a few words and a link to an online post of the summons, though I wouldn’t advocate it. Imagine seeing this tweet on your iPhone:

You’re being sued — here’s your summons: http://tinyurl. . . .

For the lighter side of social media evolution, watch this.

Hat tip: My dad.

3 Comments

  1. Isn’t it about time to throw out all of the archaic rules on service of process? It seems that any method that will give the defendant actual notice should be sufficient, and any time the defendant does have actual notice of the suit, he should be considered served. The only reason that these old rules still exist is that service of process is still intertwined with the issue of personal jurisdiction in some situations. But the rule on obtaining jurisdiction through personal service also seems out of date to me.

  2. The more difficult service is for the authorities wishing to bolster their coffers with outrageous photo enforcement tickets the better…as far as I am concerned. They should be required to prove that the accused has received their citation before judgment is passed. Relying on the Postal Service to be 100% efficient seems unrealistic and electronic notification assumes people check their email/facebook/whatever often: I don’t, and there will never be a law requiring people to do so. So, until we all are required to have neural interface microchips through which a summons or notice may be served, let’s keep the system whereby a witness testifies, “Yes, I served Mr. Yahootie.”

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