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Service of Court Documents by way of Facebook approved in South Africa

In a South African first, Judge Esther Steyn, sitting in the Durban High Court, made history yesterday when she approved service of court documents on one Mr Odendaal by way of Facebook.  It appears from a report on IOL that Mr Odendaal's attorneys withdrew from the matter and did not leave a current address for Mr Odendaal for further service. What is supposed to happen is that the other parties to the proceedings should be advised where they can serve further court documents on a party whose attorneys have withdrawn from the case.

This left the plaintiff, CMC Woodworking Machine (Pty) Ltd, in a difficult position. It had no apparent way of serving further court documents on Mr Odendaal who appeared to be evading service of the court documents.

In this particular case, Judge Steyn also ordered a publication in the local newspaper, which is common practice for substituted service.

Judge Steyn's reasoning for her decision is expected on 3 August 2012.

While there are cases in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand in which service by Facebook and even Twitter has been approved by the courts, the matter before Judge Steyn is believed to be the first in SA.

ServicesShaun Benater