A Federal District Court in New York recently allowed Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to serve (documents other than Summons and Complaint) defendants in India through alternative means namely ’email’ and ‘facebook’ in a case alleging that defendants operated a scheme that tricked American consumers into spending money to fix non-existent problems with their computers.
FTC’s request to serve documents under Hague Convention through Indian Central Authority was in vain as the latter didnt serve for more than 5 months.
The Court ruled that the service by email & Facebook i) is not prohibited by international agreement (even though India objected to service by alternative means with only includes “postal channels” and “judicial officers” per Article 10 Hague Convention) and ii) comports with constitutional notions of due process.
The Court said “Service by email and Facebook are not among the means listed in Article 10, and India has not specifically objected to them. Numerous courts have held that service by email does not violate any international agreement where the objections of the recipient nation are limited to those means enumerated in Article 10.”
“The Court acknowledges that service by Facebook is a relatively novel concept, and that it is conceivable that defendants will not in fact receive notice by this means. But, as noted, the proposed service by Facebook is intended not as the sole method of service, but instead to backstop the service upon each defendant at his, or its, known email address. And history teaches that, as technology advances and modes of communication progress, courts must be open to considering requests to authorize service via technological means of then-recent vintage, rather than dismissing them out of hand as novel”, the Court added.
“Where defendants run an online business, communicate with customers via email, and advertise their business on their Facebook pages, service by email and Facebook together presents a means highly likely to reach defendants”, the Court said.