Service via Facebook in Quebec

Already the subject of Slaw posts in the past with regard to different jurisdictions (see here and here), it is now Quebec’s turn to recognize service via Facebook after the Court of Quebec authorized this past summer a plaintiff to serve its motion to institute proceedings via this social network ing site.

In Boivin & Associés c. Scott, 2011 QCCQ 10324 (CanLII), the plaintiff submitted evidence that it had made every effort possible to serve the defendant by traditional means, but to no avail. Indeed, the defendant had no known address in Quebec and her last known address was in Florida; however, the defendant had since moved away and could no longer be located at any physical address. The plaintiff demonstrated that the person it wished to serve had a Facebook page and argued that it could serve the defendant personally and efficiently by electronic means.

The honorable Daniel Dortelus surveyed the framework regarding service in Quebec: the Quebec Code of Civil Procedure allows a party to serve another through a variety of means: by bailiff, by mail and by public notice. The judge took note of the fact that these means of service are not exclusive of all other ones and Quebec’s Act to establish a legal framework for information technology, RSQ c. C-1.1, which seeks to ensure the functional equivalence and legal value of documents, could in fact be applied to service of procedures.

Satisfied that the plaintiff had made the necessary attempts to serve the defendant through other means, the judge concludes as follows on service via Facebook:

It is a direct and practical way of notifying the defendant that a motion has been instituted against her so that she may prepare her defense and be heard, which meets the main objective of service. (my translation)

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Comments

  1. The decision is in my view clearly right. It’s interesting that it does not say whether service should be by posting the notice of action (or statement of claim, or Quebec equivalent) on the wall of the Facebook page or by private message via Facebook. Are there privacy considerations, once the ‘need to serve this way’ consideration has been satisfied?

    The court cites an article co-authored by occasional Slawian Dominic Jaar on how the Quebec ‘framework’ law works. The same analysis could be made of the Uniform Electronic Commerce Act and its provincial and territorial implementations.