Beware of Facebook

It was due to happen at some stage in Ireland – it has been happening in jurisdictions overseas for a while – but the Irish Courts have now recognised that an acceptable form of “substituted service” can be via social media like Facebook. If you have been trying avoid being brought to Court, but are a regular Facebook user, then be careful because the Irish Courts can make an order allowing service of legal documents on you via Facebook.

This was a recent application for substituted service before Mr Justice Peart in the High Court. The argument was made that substituted service was not limited to any particular form. In the past things like normal pre-paid post or advertisements have been used but the argument was made that this is a non-exhaustive list. Justice Peart permitted the service of the Court Summons by way of Facebook, more specifically permitting the service of the document by private email on the Facebook site.

Justice Peart was satisfied that the person to be served was a regular Facebook user and because the person was residing outside of Ireland their normal address or email may not be effective.

As noted at the start, this method of service has been used in the past in jurisdictions like Australia and New Zealand but it is interesting to see it arriving in Ireland. It is just another thing to beware of when using Facebook – don’t your holiday pictures if you are trying to avoid being served!

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