Is it possible to obtain Norwich Pharmacal Orders from social media companies
You can obtain a Norwich Pharmacal Order from most social media companies by making an application to the High Court in London.
There are various difficulties when making an application for a Norwich Pharmacal Order against a social media company. The most significant issue is that of jurisdiction. The majority of social media companies are not located in the United Kingdom, which means that in order to be able to enforce the Norwich Pharmacal Order against them, you will need to obtain permission from the High Court to serve the proceedings against the social media companies outside the jurisdiction.
This could result in a substantial expense to anyone who may want to obtain a Norwich Pharmacal Order against a social media company because the general rule is that you, the applicant, have to pay the legal costs of the third party against whom you are applying for a Norwich Pharmacal Order. There are, however, ways to avoid the need to bring proceedings for service outside the jurisdiction whilst maintaining the Norwich Pharmacal Order effectiveness.
The court will not permit you to serve any court order, including a Norwich Pharmacal Order on a third party, which is located outside of the jurisdiction without the court’s specific permission to do so. You must not assume that just because you have obtained a Norwich Pharmacal Order, you will automatically be allowed to formally serve it on the social media company.
To avoid having to make an expensive application to serve the Norwich Pharmacal Order outside of the jurisdiction, you should obtain the prior consent by the social media company to the order. The consent should be given to you un writing and it must state that the social media company does not require you to apply for service outside the jurisdiction. You will need to submit this consent document to the judge when making your Norwich Pharmacal Order application. Facebook and Instagram, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn are likely to give you a written consent to make an Norwich Pharmacal Order application, provided the Norwich Pharmacal Order is agreeable to them.
You will therefore need to negotiate the terms of the Norwich Pharmacal Order with Facebook and Instagram, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn before making your application. The draft Norwich Pharmacal Order for each company will be different and sometimes it will also be verified in each individual case. Some social media companies will also ask you to domesticate the court order from the UK in their own jurisdiction, before they provide you with the required information. Domesticating a UK Norwich Pharmacal Order in the USA and Canada is fairly simple, provide you know what you are doing.
In some cases, you will be better off making an application for disclosure in the local jurisdiction of the social media company or the website operator from whom you are seeking disclosure. In some jurisdictions the process of obtain disclosure via a subpoena is much quicker and even cheaper than if you obtained a Norwich Pharmacal Order in the UK and then tried to domesticate it in the foreign jurisdiction.
There are also website operators who will insist that you obtain a disclosure order from their local court and will not guarantee you that they will be accepting service of a Norwich Pharmacal Order which was granted in the UK. Furthermore, in some cases, you might be able to access better information through a disclosure subpoena, for example, personal data pertaining to Google or Twitter users who are located in some countries outside the US or Europe. In some cases the data that you will be receiving through a disclosure subpoena will be more complete due to local data protection and privacy rules in the jurisdiction of the social media company.
Finally, if you get unlucky and are unable to obtain meaningful disclosure information from a social media company or from a website that operate outside the UK jurisdiction, you could, in some cases, have social media accounts disabled and website and domain names put on suspense if you take the whole process through the foreign court. It means that your claim will be brought in the foreign court instead of in the UK. You must consider carefully which jurisdiction is the most suited for your Norwich Pharmacal Order and for your legal claim because if you get the wrong jurisdiction, your entire case could fail.
Twitter so far been relatively helpful in complying with Norwich Pharmacal Orders. However, the social media company appears to prefer to delete tweets and even entire accounts in order to avoid compromising privacy. Sometimes you will need to bring Norwich Pharmacal Order proceedings against Twitter, before Twitter finally agrees to remove an offending tweet or post.
Google's attitude to Norwich Pharmacal Orders has usually been positive and helpful. In recent years, Google has allowed specialist law firms to develop a process, which is relatively straightforward for both Google and for the law firm, and which allows Norwich Pharmacal Order applications to be made relatively cheaply and with a high degree of certainty that the disclosure requested will be provided. Normally, the terms of the Norwich Pharmacal Order will be agreed in advance between the law firm and Google who will also come to an agreement as to the way the Norwich Pharmacal Order will be served on Google.
Facebook and Instagram have so far been co-operative with Norwich Pharmacal Order applications. Where Instagram is concerned, the priority of the Norwich Pharmacal Order applicant must first be to ensure that Instagram preserves all the evidence in the matter. This is because by the time you apply for the Norwich Pharmacal Order, there will be very little information left on Instagram’s servers to give you. It is therefore advisable that together with the application for the Norwich Pharmacal Order against Facebook or Instagram, you make a further application for the preservation of evidence in the case.
The terms of both court orders need to be agreed in advance with Facebook or Instagram. The short period of time that Instagram preserves information pertaining to deleted accounts, means that your Norwich Pharmacal Order application is likely to be more expensive than an application which relate, say, to Twitter.