Peter Carlson - June 01, 2009 - www.larkinhoffman.com
Recently, courts in Australia and New Zealand have allowed legal documents to be served via Facebook. In Australia, the plaintiff's lawyers had first attempted to serve the documents personally on the defendants, as well as by e-mail. After both methods were unsuccessful, the plaintiff convinced the court that it should be allowed to serve the defendants on their Facebook page. In order to do so, however, the court required that the plaintiff demonstrate that the Facebook profiles found by the plaintiff were in fact those of the defendants. Similarly, in New Zealand, the High Court permitted a plaintiff, who had previously been unsuccessful in determining the defendant's location, to serve the defendant with process by way of the defendant’s presence on Facebook.
This relaxation in the requirements for process serving, however, has not crossed the seas and been implemented in the United States. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that an individual may be served by leaving a copy of the summons and complaint "at the individual's dwelling or usual place of abode …." It seems unlikely that American courts will interpret this language to mean that an individual's Facebook or MySpace page is deemed their dwelling or usual place of abode.
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Is Legal Service of Process on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter in the Near Future?