THERE is no hiding place for anyone hoping to escape the long arm of the law – and Basingstoke law firm Phillips Solicitors have proved it.

Phillips director Howard Gardener, who specialises in disputes and family law at the firm’s Town Gate offices in London Street, said: “There’s no hiding place, as we discovered when trying to track down a client’s ex-wife in Spain to serve court documents.

“My client’s former wife of 15 months had moved to Spain, to an unknown destination working as a bar person, and would not respond to telephone or ‘dead letter’ correspondence.

“The costs of tracing her were disproportionate to the issues so I was at a loss, but my young team of solicitors came up with a brainwave which was definitely out of my comfort zone – Face-book.”

Howard, who is a founding member of the firm, joked that “activity on Facebook in office hours is a capital offence,” but with permission trainee solicitor Hollie Jones, was able to identify the woman’s account within minutes.

Rob Parker, associate solicitor in the family team, had recently read a High Court commercial case where permission had been given to serve documents by Facebook in Australia.

After further research by the firm’s team an application was drafted to the local court for what is thought to be the first Order for Service of matrimonial documents in County Court proceedings via Facebook.

“The judge duly granted the order which was served,” said Howard.

“I would never have come up with such an innovative solution nor indeed be capable of effecting service which of course I left to my young team in the know.

“So if anyone thinks they can disappear and avoid service of documents, think again.”