New Zealand: Courts Can Serve Papers via Facebook
A New Zealand court has allowed a paintiff to serve legal papers to a defendant via Facebook, in what is being hailed (and derided) as a legal first.
Proponents of the ruling assert that this is just an evolution in legal communication, citing earlier reticence to accept the faxing of documents, but there are a few extenuating issues.
First of all, Facebook is not a utility: its basic functionality is prone to bugs and outages beyond that of, say, a phone company.
Also, identity: Facebok profiles are known to be spoofable: how do you know you have servet the right person?
Finally (at least off the top of my head), Facebook's own stance: since it's a private company, can they just not ban the serving of legal papers on their site? I'd be shocked if Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wants his baby to be seen as yet another avenue through which to reach out and crush someone.
In a New Zealand first, Associate Judge David Gendall approved yesterday the serving of court papers through Facebook after the High Court at Wellington was told that a company, Axe Market Garden, had difficulty serving papers to Craig Axe, who is alleged to have taken $241,000 from its account.
The company's lawyer, Daniel Vincent, asked Judge Gendall if he would take the unusual step of approving a secondary service order on Axe via Facebook and email to avoid him frustrating his client's court action. Judge Gendall approved the order.
Wellington lawyer Barbara Buckett said the decision could open the legal floodgates.
"Who would have thought Facebook would become part of the legal process?" she said.
Justice David Gendall granted approval, the first time a New Zealand court has allowed such a step. Facebook was also used by police in the New Zealand alpine resort of Queenstown in January when they posted surveillance camera footage of a bungling burglar.