In recent years, the Courts have allowed a Claimant to serve a Claim Form via Facebook, where the Defendant could not be served by more traditional means. In AKO Capital LLP and another v TFS Derivatives and others (2012) and Twitter Blaney v Persons Unknown (2009), the Court first ordered service by this process, which has since opened the floodgates for service by more modern methods.
In the recent case of DDF v YYZ (2015), an injunction was obtained against an unknown Defendant to prevent harassment via Instagram, and to prevent private information from being disclosed. The Claimant also obtained an order for permission to serve the claim via Instagram.
In a private hearing on 5 June 2015, the Judge granted the injunction at an ex parte hearing, on the grounds that the Claimant would be able to obtain injunctions at trial. The fact that the Claimant did not know the identity of the Defendant and the nature of the threats involved meant that it was appropriate and just for relief to be granted before the Defendant was alerted to the institution of the proceedings. In the circumstances, it was the only means of serving the Defendant.
The permission was granted by virtue of CPR 6.15(1) which permits the Court to authorise an order for service by a method not otherwise permitted where it appears to the Court that there is good reason to do so. The Judge made it clear that if the Defendant were to subsequently be identified, service would continue in the usual manner.
The case highlights Instagram’s rise in popularity in recent months, and the Courts willingness to assist Claimants in enforcing their rights.