I was interested to read your ‘Dumping Ground’ piece in Obiter, which asked for confirmation of whether the Manhattan Supreme Court’s decision to allow service of divorce proceedings by Facebook was the first of its kind.
Almost three years ago, my colleague Amy Scollan and I obtained court permission in England to allow service of financial remedy proceedings via Facebook.
This concerned a case where our client had been divorced for around 20 years but had never resolved financial matters, leaving the former matrimonial home still vested in joint names.
Despite instructing an enquiry agent, our client was unable to obtain contact details for the former spouse but could find a Facebook profile. Service by Facebook was therefore absolutely necessary and, fortunately for our client, we were able to persuade a district judge of this.
We carried out research at the time and could not find any trace of service via Facebook in a matrimonial case in England. Various press releases followed, some asserting we were the first and had made legal history.
Nobody came forward to challenge this, so perhaps we were the first in England; and the English courts allowed service via Facebook in a matrimonial case before the US courts did. Certainly, this is what the recent Manhattan case suggests.
Cheryl Grace, associate, Clarion, Leeds