The Virginia Code provides that official notice of various legal proceedings may be accomplished by publication in a newspaper. These include service by order of publication on non-resident or unknown parties to litigation (§ 8.01-317), foreclosures (§ 55-59.2), tax sales (§ 58.1-3965), condemnations (§ 25.1-210 ) and the like. In addition, the Virginia Code requires that public hearings that must precede certain land use decisions be advertised in similar fashion (§ 15.2-2204). Controlling U.S Supreme Court precedent dating from the 1950’s has upheld the constitutionality of notice by publication in a newspaper as the “best means practicable” in these situations. However, as traditional print newspapers continue to decline as a news source in favor of digital media, the assumption that this continues to pass constitutional muster has been called into question. In response, the Virginia Press Association has created a statewide registry of legal notices published in member publications which can be found online at www.publicnoticevirginia.com. This site is available to the public 24/7 without charge. It is word searchable and offers the ability to filter by locality, date, type of notice, etc. Unlike a print advertisement that runs episodically, e.g., once per week for four weeks, the digital version of these notices remains available on the website during the entire publication period. In the last session of the General Assembly, the statute that sets forth the requirements a “newspaper” must meet in order to run legal notices, §8.01-324, was amended to require that any such publication must have the capability to post legal notices to a “searchable statewide online registry.” Although the Virginia Press Association is not mentioned specifically, as a practical matter, the effect of this amendment is that only VPA member publications will meet the statutory requirement and, thus, all legal notices regardless of locality will be available online on www.publicnoticevirginia.com.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Hirschler Real Estate Litigation team.