VictoriaPoliceNews reports that Victoria Police have used Facebook to serve an interim intervention order against an alleged cyber stalker after other attempts to locate him at his address, by phone and by using the LEAP police database.
A Magistrates Court made an order that substituted service could be effected via Facebook and accepted that service had in fact been effected. This was despite the offender not confirming he had read the initial messages sent by police. The legality of the service wasn’t contested and Police eventually made contact with the Respondent after service of the final order who acknowledged later having read the messages. Conditions were imposed on the use of the social networking website as an avenue for substituted service of the Court documents.
The court documents were transcribed and keyed into private messages sent to the respondent’s Facebook account, and a video of a Police Officer both reading and serving the order was prepared.
The Order was eventually successfully served after contact was made with the man via Facebook who acknowledged receiving the order. Upon receiving the Order he agreed to delete his Facebook account as required by it’s terms.
The legitimacy of service through social networking sites has already been established, and appears to be a growing trend. A Supreme Court has agreed to substituted service via Facebook to serve documents in a civil case. However the case has set a precedent for the service of Intervention Orders.
Leading Senior Constable Walton started exploring this method of service after Police enlisted to assist with service experienced difficulties in serving the respondent. Senior Constable’s creativity paid off. As Senior Constable Walton accurately remarked “In this instance we were able to deliver justice through the same medium as the crime committed“.
It remains to be seen whether this opens the door to Government and other authorities serving or delivering legal process through social networking platforms.