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U.K. High Court Judge Allows Service of Legal Notice through Facebook
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In a suit filed in a U.K. High Court, what started as an excuse for one side ended up as a trend-setter for the rest of the world.

In a pretrial hearing of a case brought by two investment managers against a brokerage firm for overcharging them, the representative of the brokerage firm said that a contributing party, one Fabio De Biase, could not be contacted due to lack of knowledge about his email address, though a copy of the suit has been left at his last known residence. Whether Fabio still lived at his last known residence or not could not be confirmed by the representative of the firm.

However, it came to light that though Fabio’s residence and email address remained unconfirmed, his Facebook account was active and that he had added two friends recently.

  
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On being requested to serve notice of legal claims through Facebook in absence of viable alternatives, Justice Nigel Teare permitted the lawyers to serve notice of the suit through the popular social networking site.

The method carries many implications, which might be too early to assess, but the legal system using social networking sites to issue notices can both safeguard as well as violate the rights of people.

On one hand, fraudsters and scammers often use social networking sites to befriend the gullible and legal notices posted against them on social networking sites can warn off many would-be-victims. On the other hand, if handled without balance, bringing social networks into accepted methods of serving legal notices can end in needless character assassination and victimization, since spreading of rumors can have a person being punished before being found guilty through due process of law.

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Ultimately, except capital punishment, the only real penal provision that laws in all countries have is to secede the convict’s connection with mainstream society by imprisonment. If social networks are brought into play and are affected by private legal issues, then a victim may already start being penalized if ostracized from his/her social network.

The Judicial Office for England and Wales confirmed on Tuesday that lawyers in the concerned case have been allowed to serve their claims through Facebook.





 

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