A Sign of the Modern Times
Social media exploded into our lives in a fashion not dissimilar to The Beatles’ explosion on the 1960s. Like most changes in culture, social media was initially embraced by the younger generation and soon thereafter trickled through to the balance of the population.
The Courts are also not a stranger to adapting to changes in culture and society. For example, in the last five years, it has been necessary for the Courts to adapt and familiarise itself with the increase of usage of text messaging and social media (such as Facebook). In light of this, the traditional rules and regulations of the Courts are moulded and shaped to accommodate these technological changes.
The recent case of Hilton & Longhurst  FamCA 511 (“the Hilton case”), demonstrates the Court adapting to the ways of modern society. One of our fundamental rights is “the right to be heard”. In the Court system, this is usually afforded by the requirement for all Respondents in a matter to served with Court proceedings prior to any decisions being made by the Court in the proceedings. In the Family Court, typically, service of Court proceedings is usually affected “personally” (that is by hand). In certain circumstances, the Court may be minded to relax that rule and order an alternative type of service (for example by post or delivery to specific premises).
In the Hilton case, the Husband’s whereabouts were unknown. As a result of this, the Husband could not be personally served with the court proceedings initiated by the Wife. The Court looked to other methods of serving the Husband with the proceedings. In doing so, the Court ordered that the Husband be served by the proceedings being sent to his last known email address, his last known residential address and his last known place of employment. These are fairly regular methods of “other” types of service. In addition to this, however, the Court also ordered that the husband be alerted to the existence of the proceedings by having a private message sent to his profile on the social media website “LinkedIn” of which he was a member.
Is it just a matter of time before service of court proceedings by social media, in scenarios similar to the facts of the Hilton case, becomes usual practice?
An experienced lawyer can guide you through the often complex and technical court process and offer advice on how to assist you with innovative ways to handle your matter, whilst working in the boundaries of legal requirements.
This article was written by Rebecca Gee who is an Associate at Robbins Watson Solicitors. Rebecca practices exclusively in Family Law and you can contact her on (07) 5576 9999 should you require any further advice in relation to your Family Law issues.
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