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Case of the Day: Flo Rida v. Mothership Music

Martin Luther King
“… we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Letters Blogatory commemorates the March on Washington, fifty years ago today.
The name of today’s case of the day, Flo Rida v. Mothership Music Pty Ltd. [2013] NSWCA 268, is perfect. Flo Rida is an American rapper. He had a contract to perform at the Fat As Butter music festival in Newcastle, New South Wales, in 2011. He didn’t perform, and the festival’s organizer, Mothership Music, sued him in the District Court for breach of contract. The judge authorized service of process via Facebook. Ultimately, a default judgment entered, and Flo Rida appealed.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment. The grounds of the decision were a little bit anticlimactic from a Letters Blogatory perspective. The District Court is a court of inferior jurisdiction, and Justice MacFarlan held that the District Court lacked jurisdiction over a person who was served by substituted service after having left Australia. So the case was really about the special limitations on the jurisdiction of the District Court and nothing broader. But suppose the case had been brought in a court without such limitations on its jurisdiction. Then we might expect to see a decision about whether service of process by Facebook is permissible under the Hague Service Convention. So here’s hoping that Mothership Music tries again.

Photo credit: US Information Agency