Why service may be considered to be invalid
In the matter of Conveyor & General Engineering Pty Ltd v Basetec Services Pty Ltd & Anor  QSC 030, His Honour McMurdo J found that the use of a ‘web service’ or ‘link’ was not a valid means of service of legal documents for the following reasons:
- He considered that service via this method did not constitute an ‘electronic communication’ within the meaning of the Electronic Transactions (Queensland) Act 2001 (ETA).
- Despite the covering email referring to the contents of the ‘link’, the documents were not attached to that email. Rather, it contained a link which directed the recipient to another website where the materials were stored. His Honour considered that, for this reason, the documents did not form part of the email, as section 24 of the ETA states that electronic communications are received when they become capable of being retrieved by the addressee at an electronic address designated by the addressee, which did not apply.
- Evidence could not be produced by the ‘sending’ party that the designated recipient had accessed the material contained in the link.
How to effectively serve via a ‘link’
Due to the size and/or number of some attachments, it is often convenient to serve material via a ‘link’. This can still be a valid method of service if you follow these steps:
- When preparing a link, ensure that you don’t use the generic ‘sharing settings’ whereby ‘anyone’ can access the link. If you do, and service is ever questioned, the relevant activity log will likely only identify dates and times when the link was accessed. This will not be sufficient to prove that the designated recipient accessed the material.
- Rather, depending on the program being used, chose an option which allows you to input the name of the intended recipient(s), or specify that the link can only be accessed by the receiver(s) of the email. This way, the log for that link will show you exactly the dates/times when those specific users accessed the documents contained in the link.