Substitutional Service via Facebook in Alberta

Ah, the unreported judgment…or in this case Order. Sometimes, interesting tidbits come out of discussions that flow to my ears via conversations from our lunchroom.

The walls of the Harvey A. Bodner Q.C. Lounge, named after one of my favourite former bosses, recently absorbed a conversation regarding a Masters order that an student-at-law heard about in passing from a professor regarding an order for substitutional service via Facebook.

The rumour made its way to me and thanks to the great memory of many individuals, including Professor Billingsley who supplied me with an action number, and our students who never complain when they are sent to the courts for searches and copies, I have a copy of the order in my hands!

The February 5, 2009 Order of Master Breitkreuz from Knott v. Sutherland says that the plaintiffs could substitutionally serve one of the multiple defendants by publication of a notice in the newspaper, by forwarding a copy of the statement of claim to the human resources department where the defendant (formerly) worked, and also by sending notice of the action to the Facebook profile of the defendant.

Precedent for service in civil matters via Facebook exists from Australia and New Zealand, but I am not aware of this being ordered previously in Alberta.


  1. Is there a way to cite that? A file number or other court reference? Is there any reasoning attached that might justify a law report series to publish it? I have had occasion to cite the AU and NZ cases, which I may have done from news stories. In the same article I cited a posting on Slaw, so I suppose that can work too…

  2. This is definitely novel. Is it possible to post a copy online? I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. This order can be cited Knott v. Sutherland (5 February 2009), Edmonton 0803 02267 (Alta. Q.B.M.)
    I am happy to email copies of the order that we retrieved from the clerks. It is a very short order that includes the text of the notice.

  4. CanLII editors, please copy.

  5. I agree with John that the novelty of this form of substitutional services suggests publication of the case. With the growing importance of social media web sites we can expect to see more issues concerning such web sites being faced by our courts.

  6. Hi Shaunna, I’m shocked that I hadn’t yet heard of this decision. Can you please forward me a copy?

  7. Louise, Knott v. Sutherland is winging it’s way to you by email.

  8. Just read that sub service via Facebook has also happened in Manitoba. See Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation v. Campbell

  9. Folks following this issue might be interested in the recent bulletin issued by the Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association. Bulletin #189 summarizes some of the recent cases involving the treatment of Facebook by the courts (including disclosure obligations and substitutional service issues).

  10. Hi Shaunna, I was wondering whether I could get Knott v. Sutherland.

  11. Melanie Bueckert

    Another update for folks following this issue: the Law Times has just published an article on this subject. The article, written by Susan Hughes is entitled, “Facebook discovery: Is civil litigation in uncharted waters?” and is dated March 15, 2010.

  12. Jason, sorry for the delay – if you send me an email (click on the author link at the top) I will reply with a copy.

  13. Hi Shaunna;
    I was wondering if I too could get a copy of this, as I cannot seem to find it anywhere… I’d really appreciate it!

  14. Order sent by email. Always happy to help.

  15. Federal Magistrates Court of Australia case authorizing Facebook service in a family law matter at, Byrne & Howard [2010] FMCAfam 509 (21 April 2010)
    Hat tip to Robert Richards for tweeting a law-lib list message

  16. I was wondering if I could get a copy of the Knott v. Sutherland order too if you are still willing to share. Thanks so much!

  17. I am always happy to share Anne, send me your email address please

  18. Would you mind sending a copy of Knott v. Sutherland to me as well? Thanks for your help!

  19. Sure, if you click on my name above you can send me an email using the link. I will reply with the order.
    Cheers, Shaunna

  20. Jennifer O'Leary

    Could I please get a copy of this order? Westlaw is letting me down.