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Court procedure: Court rules that legal papers may be served via Facebook

One of the key principles of legal doctrine has been brought into the 21st century by a High Court judge, who ruled that legal claims can now be served on a defendant via the internet.

The judgment, handed down Mr Justice Teare, gives the go-ahead for solicitors to serve claims using social networking site, Facebook.

The case in question concerned a £1.3m High Court claim brought by investment management firms AKO Capital LLP and AKO Master Fund against a broker, TFS Derivatives and an employee of theirs Fabio de Biase. The claim was also brought against a former employee of AKO, Anjam Ahmed.

The claim concerned an overcharging of fees and commission on which the investment managers' claim was made. The firms were seeking to recover the sums from the broker.

The respondent firm, TFS, denied any liability, and argued that if held liable, it should be able to claim some of the funds from the two individuals in the case.

TFS came into difficulty, however, when attempting to serve court papers on Mr De Biase. They sent documents to his last known address, but were unsure whether he still lived there and therefore whether the papers could be served by post.

However, TFS were aware that Mr De Biase was still actively using his Facebook account, as evidenced by the recent acceptance of two new 'friend requests'. They petitioned the court to be allowed to use Facebook to serve court papers on Mr De Biase.

Mr Justice Teare was satisfied that he was actively using the site, and therefore assented to the use of the social network site in the case.

This is not the first time the use of Facebook has been sanctioned in this way in the UK; however, the last case was only in a County Court and therefore held little weight. Now it has been sanctioned in the High Court, it is likely that we will see it used more often.

Britain lags behind other countries in this respect, however. In Australia and New Zealand Facebook is routinely used for such purposes.

Jenni Jenkins is a lawyer at Memery Crystal, representing one of the parties in this case.

"It's a fairly natural progression. A High Court judges has already ruled that an injunction can be served via Twitter, so it's a hop, skip and a jump away from that to allow claims to be served via Facebook," she said.

Related links:

Read more on the story (The Telegraph)

Particulars of claim (FindLaw)

Find solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)