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When can notification of proceedings be served using social media? Derek Jones, a Partner at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, comments following a recent ruling that Facebook could be used to effect notification of bankruptcy proceedings.
In Re A Debtor (No 0274 of 2010) on 22 October 2014 District Judge Lethem, sitting in the County Court at Tunbridge Wells, made an order requiring a bankrupt to be summoned for examination under sections 366 and 367 of the Insolvency Act 1986. The applicant trustee in bankruptcy (Quantuma LLP) had previously sought to effect both personal and substituted service upon the debtor who had proved elusive.
The judge was satisfied on the evidence before him that the debtor was a regular user of his Facebook account and granted leave to the applicant to notify the bankrupt of the terms of the order:
'by means of an email and/or posting upon the Respondent's Facebook account in the following terms: "...TAKE NOTICE that on the 22nd October 2014 the Court made an Order in connection with these proceedings which requires your personal attendance before the Judge at 42-46 London Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 1DP. For further details please telephone the Court office on 01892 700150..."'
This is understood to be the first time that the use of social media has been extended by the courts to encompass insolvency proceedings in England and Wales.
This is a particularly important step for trustees in bankruptcy dealing with recalcitrant bankrupts who have failed to cooperate with either the official receiver or themselves.
Albeit only a first instance decision, it shows that where a debtor is active on social media the bankruptcy court has the power under rule 6.15 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR) to authorise the use of social media not only
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Stephen qualified as a solicitor in 2005 and joined the Restructuring and Insolvency team at Lexis®PSL in September 2014 from Shoosmiths LLP, where he was a senior associate in the restructuring and insolvency team.
Primarily focused on contentious and advisory corporate and personal insolvency work, Stephen’s experience includes acting for office-holders on a wide range of issues, including appointments, investigations and the recovery and realisation of assets (including antecedent transaction claims), and for creditors in respect of the impact on them of the insolvency of debtors and counterparties.
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