Going to the wall

My eye was drawn to the recent piece in the Lawyer [Stephenson Harwood uses Facebook to serve court claim, 21st Feb, 2012] noting that the High Court has agreed that a claim may be served on a party via Facebook. 

If ever there was an indication that social media is now mainstream, this is surely it. Facebook was doubtless feeling left out after the court allowed an injunction to be served via Twitter in October 2009 [see my post The Last Straw, 6th Oct, 2009] but now Mr Justice Teare has allowed Facebook to join the party.

I can imagine that the proposed defendant was not a little annoyed as it appears that he had successfully evaded service previously by not being present at his last known address. The court presumably took the view that service of process is all about bringing the claim to the attention of the party against whom it is made and if the proposed defendant had an active Facebook account there was every reason to suppose that it would come to his notice in good time and he would be able to respond to it.

It seems that the court exercised its discretion to order service by an alternative method where appropriate (see CPR Rule 6.15). In this case, the court must have accepted that the defendant would have proper notice of the claim and be able to respond to it in due time.

Obvious really, when you think about it, and I wonder why no one has tried it before.

Storm clouds

Global warming and/or climate change are not the staple of this blog. That is not about to change but I have to say that what others call the extremes of climate (and we in the UK just call “the weather”) has been much in my mind recently.

I suppose it all started with what by any standards has been the almost continuously poor weather throughout what passes for summer in these islands, made all the worse by the spectacular spring when the sun shone almost unceasingly and the temperature over Easter was in the 80s, with the promise of more to come. It was around then that people started saying they feared for the harvest because of the lack of rain. As I was not trying to grow anything organic, I felt that the doomsayers ought to be careful what they wished for and sure enough once the rain and cool weather arrived no one seemed to know how to turn it off! And, surprise, surprise, the harvest has not been all that bad overall. We have just had yet another disappointing summer.

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Minority report

I am now in a minority in my own country! Some people would say I have been heading that way for some time! However, it is now official.

If you are a fan of Tom Cruise, or possibly Samantha Morton, you will remember the 2002 film, Minority Report, where, in the future, criminals are caught before they can commit their crimes. One of the officers in the special crime unit is accused of a crime and sets out to prove his innocence.

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Judge, please be my friend

Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace are increasingly in the news. I wrote recently about such sites and some of their less well known brethren in a piece entitled A duck’s a duck” [28th Oct, 2010]. My concern at the time was to point out that the courts may take the view that a party should disclose details of log-ins and passwords to such sites in certain circumstance (and in the particular instance in Pennsylvania actually so ordered).

If it can happen there (see the case of McMillan v Hummingbird Speedway Inc. then why not here?

Now I see that the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee of the Florida Supreme Court has published a formal opinion to the effect that judges may not be Facebook “friends” with attorneys who may appear before them on the grounds that it may give rise to the appearance of bias and suggest that such attorneys are in a position to influence the judges in question.

The full judgment can be seen here and you will see that a minority of the committee disagreed while noting that the use of the word “friend” on such sites may merely describe acquaintances.

While it is always said that you cannot choose your relations but you can choose your friends, the Florida Supreme Court Ethics Committee disagrees.

Personally I have yet to ask a judge to be my “friend” and will probably now refrain from doing so for fear that I am disappointed! For all my readers, you have been warned that use of networking sites may lead not only to social minefields but may also have more serious repercussions.

I am indebted to the vigilance of Nicola Haye, Practice Support Lawyer at Withers for pointing me to this veritable nugget of internet etiquette.