Can You Serve Court Papers With Social Media

Can You Serve Court Papers Via Social Media In The UK?

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If you think that legal documents like court summons, divorce papers, or custody agreements can only be served by hand or by snail mail in the UK, think again.

Back in 2011, a landmark ruling in the English High Court made it legal in Great Britain for court papers to be served via social media. While the practice had been in place in several countries around the world, including Australia and New Zealand, it wasn’t a regular practice in UK at the time. Two years prior, the first case of its kind had landed in the UK. Mr. Justice Lewison permitted that an injunction be served on Twitter – the social media platform where users post short news like ‘tweets’. The party looking to serve the court papers did not know the defendant’s real name or where to find them. But they did know his Twitter-handle. Mr. Justice Lewison ruled that due to these unusual circumstances, the injunction could be served over Twitter.

Since this case, it hasn’t been a routine practice for judges in the UK or Wales to allow court papers to be served on social media but that is likely to change in the future.

How To Serve Court Papers Via Social Media

Court papers of any kind should only be served on social media if no other options are available. Social media is usually used if the real name of a person isn’t known by the defendant, or if they have no mailing address or workplace for the defendant. As with other alternative service options, you’ll need to prove to the court that you (or a professional process server) has tried serving the documents in every way possible.

If you have tried mailing the court papers or having them served at the recipient’s workplace by a process server and both options have failed. Or, if you never had an address or workplace name for the recipient, you can ask the courts for permission to serve the papers via social media. This is a legal option, but is permitted on a case-by-case basis.

Facebook Is The Number One

Regarding the best platform for serving court documents, it is likely to be Facebook. This social media platform is the most widely used in the UK and also collects a huge amount of data from users. It is often possible to find a phone number and email address attached to a personal profile at the very least. So there is no serious challenge as to the owner of the profile itself. It also has an instant messaging facility that can provide other useful insights, such as when the user was last online and whether or not they have read an incoming message. If a user is not privacy savvy, then someone skilled in online investigations could uncover a promising trail to the respondent.

A Process Server Can Help

Whether you are planning to serve court papers on social media, by snail mail, or in person, it helps to hire a process server. Serving court documents can be tough. The recipient may not wish to be found, or could have moved away since you last saw them. Tracking them down and serving the papers in a timely manner is a must, or else you’ll risk delaying your court hearings.

To ensure that your court papers are served correctly and on time, a process server will go to great lengths to track down your recipient. If an address or workplace isn’t known, they’ll help you use social media to ensure that your documents are served. In fact, social media is likely to be part of their research process when they are attempting to serve the documents in person. It’s surprising how many respondents can give away their location by an inadvertent ‘check in’.

The help of a process server can be the difference between getting the justice or compensation you deserve or getting your case dismissed by a judge.


Diem Legal 

Process Servers – Tracing Agents – Legal Support

*Our content is not designed to constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice we always recommend contacting a qualified legal professional. We are happy to provide recommendations*

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2 responses to “Can You Serve Court Papers Via Social Media In The UK?”

  1. […] Facebook is now an accepted way to serve court papers in some cases. Usually, a court will stipulate that personal service of the documents should be attempted, and the subsequent failure of doing so documented, before agreeing to service of court papers via social media. […]

  2. […] Process serving involves delivering legal papers to their intended recipient. These documents are usually an impending court notice or other papers relating to an upcoming hearing/case. Traditionally, legal documents are served by hand – a process server will physically seek out the recipient and hand them the paperwork. They will then obtain proof of delivery and report back to their law firm or other client to demonstrate that the documents have been received. In today’s modern world, the role of a process server could change drastically – we have at our disposal a myriad different communication channels that could offer an alternative to the traditional hand-delivered approach. The following is a list of some of the exciting and unusual methods in which legal documents could be served in the future: 1. Remote controlled drones Drones are already big business – as drone technology improves, we are seeing an increase in their availability and usage. Most people use drones for recreational purposes such as filming video footage or during their travels. In recent years, however, drones are starting to be used in business. Can you imagine controlling a drone that has a special compartment fixed onto it and within this compartment is a set of legal documents? A process server could literally fly the drone and deliver the legal documents without having to move from their place of work!   2. WhatsApp conversation Modern instant messaging programs are much more than a chat service. Programs such as WhatsApp, Messenger and Skype allow you to send photos, files and even audio recordings. Instead of delivering a legal notice by hand, imagine simply sending a PDF version of the document via WhatsApp? Or imagine taking a photo of the documents with your phone and sending it as an attachment via Facebook Messenger? There would have to be security measures put in place obviously, but this could be another method of serving that utilises modern technology.            3. Social Media platforms Social Media is one of the most used online platforms in today’s modern world. We have a plethora of different platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest – many people post daily to their social media feeds, share information and converse with others using social media. Process servers have these platforms at their fingertips, so why not use these prolific platforms that everyone is familiar with? You could send a private Facebook post for example to a recipient’s wall containing a link to the documents that only they could see. There is an increase in the amount of court cases that allow service of process with social media. […]

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