Using Social Media to Serve Notice of a Claim

February 13, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Canadian Lawyer recently featured an article in which a Toronto lawyer could not track down a defendant whom she needed to serve. As a result of this she turned to social media and used Instagram to serve the notice.

Tara Vasdani obtained the order to serve the statement of claim from an Ontario Superior Court allowing her to service notice using the app . It appears to be the first of its kind in Canada, and it signals a shift in how lawyers are doing business and interacting with technology. This is a significant shift and it may allow lawyers to track down defendants much more quickly and efficiently than in the past. Some questions do remain, however, about whether these changes are fair, and whether there is any way to determine whether the defendant actually receives notice of the notice. I have clipped portions of the article by Alex Robinson and placed them here. You can read the whole article on Canadian Lawyer.

“[I]n order to avoid becoming obsolete, it is our duty to evolve with society — and one of the concrete and surefire ways society is evolving is through technology,” she says.

Vasdani, who is an associate at Mason Caplan Roti LLP, issued the claim, in which she represents an insurance company, at the end of August.

She first attempted to serve the defendant on Sept. 1, 2017, using a physical address, and her process servers were told the defendant had moved away. She then tried using email, with a read receipt, but her messages were either ignored or never read. Vasdani then looked up the defendant on LinkedIn and contacted her last listed employer, who told her the person never worked there.When Vasdani could not find the defendant on other social media sites, she turned to Instagram, which the lawyer says she uses much more than Facebook or other apps. Having found the defendant on Instagram, Vasdani brought a motion in court asking if she could serve the defendant through Instagram and LinkedIn. The court granted service effective five days after Vasdani sent the necessary documents to the defendant through Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as through mail to her last known address. Vasdani served the defendant in a private message on Instagram. The court did not require a read receipt be obtained for the service to be effective.The lawyer says the order is the latest example of how the use of technology is creeping into the legal profession, which has been criticized for being largely resistant to change. Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi has committed to digitizing and modernizing the courts.The Ministry of the Attorney General recently made it possible to file civil claims online — a change Vasdani says would have been inconceivable to many lawyers a year ago.

“If we are able to shift the way that we use and apply the law and legal tools so that they are more consistent with the individuals we are seeking to hold legally accountable, we will be met with efficacy, client satisfaction and the prestige the profession since its inception has and deserves to continue to hold,” she says.

 

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