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article imageLawsuits can be served via Twitter

By Tim Sandle     Oct 15, 2016 in Internet
San Fransisco - Miscreants and evil-doers beware, some U.S. law firms have begun serving lawsuits using the social medium of Twitter. The first such electronic legal missive was served this week.
The lawsuit was served to a Kuwaiti religious leader, called Hajjaj bin Fahd al-Ajmi. The man has allegedly raised money for jihadist rebels in Syria. The U.S. government and United Nations accuse Ajmi of backing the Jabhat al-Nusra, an affiliate of al Qaeda.
The lawsuit was sent by a court on behalf of a lawyer who is seeking compensation in a northern California federal court. The compensation is on behalf of thousands of Assyrian Christians, who own property in Iraq and Syria. Much of the property has been damaged, looted or destroyed as a result of the conflict that has ravaged parts of these countries.
Due to his being 'underground' and out of reach, al-Ajmi proved impossible to be physically given a legal notice. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler discovered that al-Ajmi has “an active Twitter account and continues to use it.” For the judge this provided the “method of service most likely to reach" him to satisfy the service of process requirement for the case to move forward. This led to the lawsuit being tweeted to the alleged criminal.
Whether this means much in practice in this case is uncertain. Hajjaj bin Fahd al-Ajmi is unlikely to jump onto the next aircraft back to the U.S. What is more interesting is to see whether the use of a social media platform like Twitter gets used for other lawsuits, perhaps even within domestic countries where there is more certainty of a person who has allegedly committed a crime appearing in court.
There have been two other cases stemming from the U.S. where social media has been used to serve a legal summons. According to U.S. News these were, firstly a federal judge in New York in 2014 allowed Facebook, LinkedIn and email to be used to send a legal summons to a Turkish citizen. This was for a trademark dispute. Secondly, in 2013, a federal judge in Virginia gave permission to the Federal Trade Commission to send a legal notice on five alleged fraudsters living in India. The notice was served through Facebook and via email.
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