Supreme court rules facebook, skype and internet forums can be used to serve defendants about their court notices. Cue threads on EDMW about court summons.

Chen Yiji  |  Singapore
Published 2016-06-13 11:51:55

The government is trying to make it easy for you to realise that you’re due in court.

On June 10, in a bid to have a more effective “method of serving notice to defendants”, the Singapore High Court has ruled that papers can now be served through “Facebook, Skype or internet forums”.

Cue measures to manage your privacy on Facebook – but don’t bother as Facebook already has guidelines which oblige them to assist in government investigations.

Facebook states that “In many of these cases, these government requests seek basic subscriber information, such as name, registration date and length of service. Other requests may also seek IP address logs or account content.”

Furthermore, Facebook also restricts content that violates local law in the relevant countries.

In a July-December 2015 report, Facebook disclosed that Singapore had requested data 214 times, and of 239 user accounts.

76.17% of requests resulted in data going to the Singapore government, so this is familiar ground for them.

Image Credit:New Line Cinema
Image Credit:New Line Cinema

When “Last Seen” Matters

This ruling comes after a precedent was set last month when the High Court ruled that using Skype, Facebook and Internet Forums were allowed in order to notify defendants who could not be reached at their last listed address.

The judgement, filed under “Storey, David Ian Andrew v Planet Arkadia Pte Ltd and others [2016] SGHCR 7“, stated that the use of “substituted service” to serve court notices through such channels was allowed after the channels showed evidence of use within a “reasonable timeframe”.

This ruling allows the court to use a person’s last online timing as evidence of whether they had received their court notice.

Previously, court notices could only be sent either through mail or emails. This change is in line with Singapore’s vision for Smart Nation, “that will enable everyone and everything, everywhere to be connected all the time in Singapore”.

According to the Singapore Judicial System, if a Defendant(aka the person being sued) is called to court by a Plaintiff (aka the person who is suing you) with a claim but fails to respond, the Plaintiff can simply proceed with their claim and the defendant might become legally obligated to settle the Plaintiff’s claim.

The way I see it, they’ll be asking Singaporeans to download a court app tied to Singpass next.

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