Stephenson Harwood uses Facebook to serve court claim

The High Court has given permission for a claim to be served via Facebook in what is believed to be a first for a commercial case.

Stephenson Harwood partner Paul Thwaite requested permission to serve the claim via Facebook on Friday in a bid to join proposed defendant Fabio de Biase in a claim being brought against its client, broker TFS Derivatives, by investment house AKO Capital.

AKO Capital is looking to recover £1.3m in what it alleges were overpaid commissions from TFS Derivatives, which denies liability and contends that should the court find otherwise it should be able to recover funds from hedge fund trader Anjam Ahmad and de Biase.

In 2010 de Biase was fined by the FSA for his part in the scam while last year Ahmad was given a suspended sentence for his part.

On Friday, Mr Justice Teare granted permission for the claim to be served on de Biase after the claimant was unable to locate him at his known address.

According to a source close to the case the aim is to force de Biase to defend the claim by having him joined at this stage rather than risk further delays in the case.

Memery Crystal associate Jenni Jenkins, who is acting for Ahmad, commented: “The courts recognise the increasing power of social networking sites like Facebook. It’s all very well serving proceedings at a last known residential address, but people move house all the time. Your email or Facebook account moves with you.

“If a claimant can identify the defendant from their photo and establish that the Facebook account is active, this is a perfectly sensible way of serving a claim and giving the defendant an opportunity to respond.”

AKO Capital is being represented by Clyde & Co partner Neil Jamieson.