An Ontario Superior Court Justice has allowed the use of Facebook as a valid method for the service of court documents. In a paternity suit where the mother could not find the father except on Facebook, Justice Cheryl Robertson allowed the mother to serve the father in a message over Facebook. Justice Robertson believes that in today’s connected world, electronic service is the next logical step for the delivery of documents which may otherwise be undeliverable.
Since the Rules of Civil Procedure allow for substituted service when regular service is impractical, Justice Robertson argues that electronic means of service provide a practical solution. E-service is even more useful in the context of family law cases where litigants may be trying to avoid being found in anticipation of child support claims. In a paper she presented earlier this month, Justice Robertson points out that e-service has several advantages over regular service including speed and cost efficiency. Furthermore the person who is serving the document will know immediately if they have sent the documents to the wrong email address or know if a user has been active in checking their Facebook page through their recent activity log. While the use of e-service is on the rise, the judiciary may be slow in adopting it, as many judges may be unfamiliar with different electronic tools. Despite this, Justice Robertson is optimistic that over time the benefits of e-service will win over even the most skeptical opponents.