Facebook can claim many things, from defeating the Nazis to recruiting spies and even helping to elect Barack Obama. Now it can add serving legal papers to the list.

These days, it would appear, the legal process is catching up with the technological reality of the world we live in. Being served with legal papers has already, in some parts of the world, become less about throwing a document at someone and more to do with clicking a mouse button and sending an email. Nowhere is this change more obvious than Australia where the courts have even given permission to serve legally binding papers by the medium of text message before now.

Now a Canberra court has given permission to a lawyer to use Facebook to serve legal papers, mainly as it was a case of last resort. The people concerned, a couple who had fallen behind on their mortgage repayments, could not be contacted any other way. The lawyer looking to serve the repossession papers reckons they did not answer the door at the house, nor the telephone, nor respond to email. In fact, they did not turn up at a court hearing either.

However, a little detective work found the woman on Facebook. Her date of birth and other details matched the person in question, and her partner was on her list of Facebook friends which seems to have sealed the deal.

The Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court agreed and authorised that the papers could be served via Facebook, but only if private email was used rather than them being pasted to her wall I guess.

I am not sure of the legal ground when it comes to proving that the papers had been properly served, and actually received by the people concerned though. I would imagine that if they log into Facebook after the date of service then it could be argued the email with the papers would have been brought to their attention.