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19 May 2009
On March 16 2009 the High Court ruled that substituted service could be made on a defendant overseas on the social networking website Facebook, as newspaper advertising could not be effectively targeted.(1)
The case involved a claim by a company, Axe Market Gardens Limited, against its minority shareholder, Craig Axe, for allegedly taking approximately NZ$241,000 from the company's account. The money had apparently been accessed by the defendant online while he was residing in the United Kingdom. It was taken in several separate transactions with the assistance of a second defendant who was served in the ordinary way.
However, the plaintiff company had difficulty locating and serving Axe. He was known to be living in the United Kingdom, but his exact location was unknown. This made the effective targeting of newspaper advertisements impossible. Axe had corresponded by email and was known to have a Facebook webpage.
In the circumstances, the court had little difficulty in deciding that the plaintiff could serve its proceedings on Facebook and by email in order to prevent Axe from avoiding service and frustrating proceedings.
This is the first time that the New Zealand courts have allowed the service of proceedings on Facebook, but it follows a decision by an Australian court allowing service of a default judgment on the website.
For further information on this topic please contact Allison Ferguson or Felicity Monteiro at Wilson Harle by telephone (+64 9 915 5700) or by fax (+64 9 915 5701) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
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