Facebook: How to Serve a Super-Star
Posted on 9 Nov 2016

On 22 October 2011, thousands of screaming fans were anxiously waiting for the headline act, Flo Rida, to appear at the ‘‘Fat as Butter’’ music festival in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

As the crowd grew restless, a festival official was forced to announce: ‘‘Flo Rida has slept in and will not be able to make the concert.’’ Understandably, patrons and fans were outraged; the festival organisers, Mothership Music Pty Ltd (‘‘Mothership Music’’), even more so.
What followed was a seemingly simple action against the superstar and his manager for breach of contract. Proceedings were commenced against the duo in the New South Wales District Court but despite a number of attempts, process servers were prevented from getting close enough to the artist in order to serve him with the documents.
Mothership Music was forced to apply to the court for substituted service. The court granted the application and ordered that substituted service be effected on Flo Rida by way of email and by posting the following message on Flo Rida’s Facebook page [1]:
‘‘On Friday, 13 April 2012, Mothership Music Pty Ltd commenced proceedings against you in the District Court of New South Wales, Australia, seeking damages for breach of contract in respect of your non-appearance on 22 October 2011 at the ‘‘Fat as Butter’’ Concert at Camp Shortland, the Foreshore, Newcastle. In addition, the Court ordered that you do not diminish your assets in Australia below $80,000.00 and also made additional ancillary orders. These orders were renewed today together with an order that you may be served by sending to you of this message by your Facebook page.
Full details and copies of all relevant documents can be obtained by contacting Neville & Hourne Legal (Level 4, 162 Goulbourn Street, Sydney NSW 2010 +61 2 9264 6888 Ref: Stephanie Borg or by email at
If you do not file a defence to these proceedings within 28 days of service, the Court may enter judgment against you without further notice to you.’’
In his decision, Gibson DCJ stated that ‘‘the international reach of Facebook is such that it is a matter of notorious fact.’’ This case demonstrates that service by Facebook is becoming more and more routine where the ordinary methods of effecting service are unreasonable or unavailable in the circumstances. Arguably, in the modern age of social media, defendants will find it increasingly difficult to evade service of proceedings.
Cronin Litigation Lawyers are experienced commercial litigators, acting for Plaintiffs and Defendants in Australia and foreign jurisdictions. If you have a local, inter-state or international dispute of a legal nature, please contact Derek Cronin or Shaun Rose at Cronin Litigation Lawyers on (07) 5592 6633 to find out how we may be of assistance.

[1] Mothership Music Pty Ltd v Darren Ayre (trading as VIP Entertainment & Concepts Pty Ltd) and Flo Rida (also known as Tramar Dillar) [2012] NSWDC 42

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