UK First Ever Injunction Served Via Instagram
Serving harassment injunction via Instagram
On 5 June 2015 we made a bit of a history by having obtained permission to serve the first harassment injunction on an anonymous internet troll via Instagram. We represented the Claimant in the case of DDF v YYZ before HHJ Nicol J at the High Court.
The Defendant activated a series of Instagram accounts through which he terrorised the Claimant for over a period of 3 weeks by constantly posting racial and sexual abuse.
The Claimant sought an Order to be permitted to serve the claim for harassment and the injunction on the Defendant via Instagram.
CPR r. 6.15 provides for service by an alternative method or at an alternative place, where there is a good reason to authorise service by a method or place not permitted by the relevant part of the CPR. The application must be supported by evidence and may be made without notice.
The most important purpose of service of an injunction and a claim for harassment is to ensure that the contents of the documents are communicated to the Defendant, in this case an internet troll who defamed, harassed and breach the privacy of the Claimant.
On behaf of the Claimant we sought an urgent injunction against the Defendant because further and more widespread harassment and/or disclosures of private information were threatened. The Defendant was not identifiable so the only means of contact which with him was Instagram.
The judge accepted that the combination of the urgency and the unusual method of communication used meant that there was good reason for the Court to authorise service of the harassment claim and the injunction via Instagram.
The service itself presented a new challenge. We had to create a number of high resolution images to make sure the content fits with Instagram’s requirements and that it was readable. It was also important to obtain proof of service of the harassment claim and the injunction because unlike email, once an Instagram user deletes their account, the evidence of communicating to them also disappears. You must therefore be able to take screenshots of the service very quickly before the Defendant deleted the account. And thirdly, the only practical method of serving the injunction and the harassment claim was by using a smart phone which meant the use of Microsoft SharePoint was helpful as it downloaded all the relevant files to the smartphone and made them easily accessible for service.
I believe this was the first case in the UK (and am told in the USA too, by my American internet law colleagues) of service on an injunction via Instagram. You can read more service of injunction via Instagram