Sending Notices By Electronic Means

The right term is “Serving Summons” but I do not want to sound too legalistic in discussing the subject of this blog. I am not a lawyer so I advice that you consult one when you will be confronted with a situation when you will need to send legal notices whose mode of transmission might get questioned in a court of law later on. I talked to a lawyer-friend and did some research before I wrote this article.

The notices or summons that I am referring to in the title of this blog range from subpoena to appear before a court or other deliberative body to Notice of Meeting inviting a member of an organization to attend an important gathering specifying the date, time and venue of the affair. We all know that subpoenas are either sent by registered mail or served by a court personnel while notices of meetings can be sent informally by sending via short messaging system (SMS) or texting.

Sending legal notices or serving summons using the Post Office and the private courier companies is the most acceptable procedure but it is not inexpensive nowadays. Publication of the notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality where the organization exists  is also legally acceptable.

I have no figure for the current cost of a registered mail service by the Post Office but the most popular private courier company charges a minimum of eighty (PhP 80.00) pesos per addressee. Make your own calculation and you will easily conclude that it is no joke sending notices via these traditional means especially if you are talking of an organization with many members.

So what are the other legal alternatives of sending notices or serving summons? I have already mentioned their delivery by the personnel of a court of law and some deliberative bodies. Homeowner associations do it by having house-to-house visit by an authorized member. I know that text messaging and emailing would easily come to your mind but let me say that such means may have some implications when proof to receipt by the addressee crop-up later on.

Commercial and non-commercial transactions by electronic means such as facsimile (fax) and emails are already recognized under our Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 but when I browse the law I did not find a specific provision that allow text message or email as means of sending notice or serving summons. However, in a recent news item and I quote partly as follows:

The Supreme Court has announced the adoption of the use of electronic means to serve summons to foreign corporations who are being sued in the Philippines but has no resident agent or not registered to do business in the country by facsimile or any recognized electronic means that could generate proof of service or by such other means as may be warranted in the discretion of the court.

Deputy public information chief Gleo Guerra said, however, that the amendment to the service of summons should be done with “leave of” court (permission of the court to take action).

Guerra did not specify the other forms of electronic means — the most common of which is e-mail — but pointed out that it will be sufficient as long as that it can be proven in court that the defendant has received the summon.

There you go, emails and I believe text messages should also do if it can be proven that the addressee has received the summon and this can only be by way of a reply to the text message or email sent to him. Can I ask my readers from other countries about how they send legal notices? Are SMS and emails acceptable means of serving summons in your country?

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