According to state media The Straits Times, the Singapore High Court has ruled in a precedent case last month that court papers can be allowed to be served over an online message on Facebook, Skype or other internet message board. This also means defamation lawsuits and even civil claims can be served over a Facebook message.

The precedent case was about an online gamer filing court papers for copyright breaches to an Australian-based company director who was uncontactable at his physical address. The High Court’s Assistant Registrar Zhuang Wenxiong said:

“If the cornerstone of substituted service is efficacy at bringing notice, then a court must be open to substituted service through electronic means other than e-mails… I construe electronic means to include WhatsApp and other smartphone messaging plaforms linked to mobile phone numbers.”

Previously, it was understood that courts papers can only be served in person or through the registered mailbox of the plantiff. This “convenience” will however embolden defamation-trigger-happy ruling party and government-linked elites to file charges against critics.