AKO Capital LLP & another v TFS Derivatives & others: Service of High Court claim permitted using Facebook

The High Court in England has recently ruled that the service of a court claim may be made via Facebook in the case of AKO Capital LLP & Another v TFS Derivatives & Others.

The claimants had been experiencing difficulties locating one of the defendants, Fabio De Biase, a former employee of TFS.

As a result, They applied for the Court’s authorisation to serve Mr de Biase via his Facebook account. On the basis of rule 6.15 of Civil Procedure Rules, Where it appears to the court that there is a good reason to authorise service by a method or at a place not otherwise permitted by this Part, the court may make an order permitting service by an alternative method or at an alternative place.

In the case at hand, the claimants were able to demonstrate to the Court that the Facebook account did indeed belong to Mr. De Biase and that He regularly accessed such account, as recent friend requests were being accepted.

The High Court, in the light of the evidences produced by the claimants, authorized the service of the claim via Mr. De Biase’s Facebook account, with this demonstrating how the U.K. court system is adapting to the rise of new forms of interaction among people.

Such ruling follows other rulings of Courts in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which have also allowed service of claims via Facebook.

From our point of view, however, an authorization of a service claim via Facebook or Twitter (or other social networks) should be based on a strong evidence that such account truly belongs to the person to be served (reference is made to the spread of fake profiles).

In any case, we are of the opinion that the aformentioned U.K. civil procedure rule permit a strong elasticity which is indeed adequate with the new technologies era. Such elasticity, for example, cannot be noticed in the Italian Code of Civil Procedure which, at this moment, only permits under article 149-bis the service through the certified electronic mailing system to the addressee’s mailbox if resultant in public lists. Moreover, it must be pointed out that such procedure is still impracticable due to the lack of necessary executing rules.

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