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18.03.2021 Feature Article

Now Thank We All Our God: Court papers can now be served by SMS, WhatsApp, Other Social Media and Email

Now Thank We All Our God: Court papers can now be served by SMS, WhatsApp, Other Social Media and Email
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It is very refreshing that, at long last, the High Court Rules have been changed1 to allow for electronic delivery/service of court papers. This news has been received with so much excitement among lawyers and persons who file their cases in court, otherwise known as litigants.

Now, any litigant or lawyer can state on the documents they file in court that they want to serve the other person or his lawyer by electronic means. Electronic means includes email.

The High Court has already given orders in some cases for parties to be served through Facebook2 and WhatsApp3 so these are also known electronic means of serving documents in a court case.

Electronic means of serving court documents has been used successfully in countries such as Nigeria, India, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States. It is, therefore exciting that in Ghana, the court rules now recognize the use of electronic means of serving documents.

For so many years, the biggest headache of lawyers and litigants was how to locate and serve parties in court cases. Most people, when they got the hint that court bailiffs were looking for them, would go into hiding to evade service.

Also, considering the inadequate and unreliable house numbering and address system in Ghana, locating the given addresses of people was a huge task. Again, the bailiffs did not make the task any easier by failing to serve the parties on time. In some instances, getting “Proof of Service” was another matter altogether.

So, now all a lawyer or litigant has to do is to indicate on the process/document to be filed that they will serve it by electronic means. They may add the telephone number or email address of the other party.

Kudos to the Rules of Court Committee.

*Thanks to Lawyer Sabina Arkorful for providing research on the decided cases.