Court allows service by Twitter

24 12 2010

In what is believed to be an Australian first, the Federal Court of Australia has allowed service of legal proceedings by Twitter.

Justice Marshall of the Federal Court, sitting in Melbourne, directed that a 17 year old girl, who has been the centre of attention in the ‘nude photo’ proceedings brought by football player Sam Gilbert, be served with a copy of an injunction by email and by twitter. In his Order, His Honour Justice Marshall said:

Notwithstanding the provisions the rules of O37 r2, the Applicant have leave to serve this order on the First Respondent by sending a copy of the order to the First Respondent by email at the address [email address suppressed in this blog post] and posting a copy of the order on Twitter addressed to the First Respondent at the Twitter account its [account name suppressed in this blog post] together with notice that an email containing the order has been sent to the First Respondent.

In an interlocutory hearing scheduled for 2:15pm 24 December 2010, the Applicant, Mr Gilbert, is seeking the following relief from the Court:

(a)        The First Respondent forthwith delete permanently and destroy all copies of the Photographs or any other photograph, image or video sourced from the computer of the Applicant which is in her custody, possession or power, whether in printed or electronic format and including without limitation copies stored on an internet account or website, computer hard drive, memory stick, mp3 device, camera, phone or in any other electronic repository or format.

(b)        Within 14 days after service of this order, the First Respondent make, file and serve an affidavit deposing to the steps taken to comply with the foregoing herein.

Earlier this year an Australian Court allowed service of proceedings via social networking site Facebook.

Typically these unusual methods of service are referred to as  ‘substituted service’, where a person cannot be served through traditional means such as by post or personal, as they cannot be located or are avoiding service. All Australian Courts have broad powers allowing substituted service.

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