Where is the first place you look for someone when you want to communicate with them? Do you physically drive over to their place to knock on their door?

Of course not. You use WhatsApp, SMS, email or the various social media platforms to send messages.

Then why do we have to use the “Domicile” to deliver legal notices?

Not because the law written by ancient men who never heard the word “digital” tells us to, but because the legal world has been slow in adopting the ECT Act (Electronic Communications and Transaction Act 25 of 2002)1.

We previously explored the painfully slow rate of change that the legal fraternity subject the rest of humanity to. It can be read here.

Just consider the following definition of domicile (domicilium citandi et executandi):

“In simple terms domicilium citandi et executandi means the address one elects for the purpose of receiving all legal notices and processes”.2

The domicile allows you to deliver a notice to the physical address provided, without having to find the actual person. But the definition of a domicile is particularly limiting in the digital age where technology has given us multiple channels to communicate without the need to physically engage with a party.

Introducing: A Digital Domicile

Man Considering Digital Domicile

Consider how a Digital Domicile would work Image: http://caffeinerobot.com

I am not referring to digital entertainment in the home. So turn off your TV and bear with me a moment longer.

I am referring to a register/record of official email addresses and/or mobile numbers and/or social media identities maintained and verified by an independent authority (even link it to your ID number), allowing us to serve notices to both physical and digital channels.

Another explanation of Domicile is a “legal relationship between a person and a locality. Domicile is a combination of two factors namely, residence and intent to remain.3

By declaring a Digital Domicile, a party has “intent to remain” linked to a certain contact details (email/mobile number) and they would have an obligation to update their Digital Domicile and notify the relevant authority if it changes. You are correct to presume that this officially excludes all Avatar identities.

But imagine this small change. Imagine the costs and efficiencies that could be saved by using a Digital Domicile. Imagine how easy it would make big issues, such as KYC, simply go away.

No more gallivanting around pining notices to doors. Registered Email and Registered SMS services are already available to deliver digital notices.

What are your thoughts on a “Digital Domicile”?


1 Electronic Communications and Transaction Act 25 of 2002,
Section 12: “Where documentation is required to be delivered in writing is met if the document or Information is­:
a) in the form of a data message, and
b) accessible in a manner usable for subsequent reference”
2 Cliffe Decker Hofmeyr Domicilium citandi et executandi – do you really understand this term?
3 USlegal.com Distinctions Between Domicile and Residence