Parties File a Case in Five Minutes and Litigate It Online in 25 Minutes at Hangzhou Internet Court
Gu Wenjian
/SOURCE : Yicai
Parties File a Case in Five Minutes and Litigate It Online in 25 Minutes at Hangzhou Internet Court
(Yicai Global) Aug. 28 -- Litigation would be much easier if people could file cases and litigate them on the internet without ever leaving their homes. /n/n/n/n/n Th already a reality in Hangzhou in China's southeastern Zhejiang province after the introduction of a dedicated internet court.

As the first virtual court in the country, The Hangzhou Court of the Internet exploring different ways of adjudicating cases on the World Wide Web, with one of its ultimate goals to litigate cases online.

"Online shopping has made our lives much easier, so why can't we make litigation easier and more efficient by applying internet technology?" rhetorically inquired Du Qian, president of the internet court, in an interview with Yicai Global.

"The virtual quality of the internet, borderless and real-time litigation and decentralization pose serious challenges to exting legal theories and the judicial system," Zhu Shenyuan, vice president at Zhejiang province's appellate court, told Yicai Global. Offline litigation costly and time consuming as litigants must go through the traditional legal process, so instituting an online judicial channel justified and urgently needed.

The court has instituted the online litigation platform after rigorous checking and tests, Du noted, and members of the public can file a case in five minutes on the platform.

The court gave a demonstration of how the system works. A plaintiff regters on the platform using her cellphone number, files a complaint and submits evidence online. The system verifies litigants' identities, reviews relevant online transactions and various forms and data automatically, and simultaneously records pertinent online evidence. It also tallies the litigation fees, which parties can pay via the Alipay payment service of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [NYSE:BABA] or online banking services.

Where necessary, evidence can be submitted online, and cross-examination can also be conducted on the web.

With the system, trial hearing and suance of verdicts and related legal forms all occur online, Du added. The average length of hearings 25 minutes, and the entire litigation process lasts 32 days on average.

The Hangzhou internet court had accepted 2,605 cases and closed 1,444 as of Aug. 15, and all of them had been litigated online, per stattics the court provided.

People now can access the Hangzhou internet court litigation platform from home, and all steps throughout the litigation process from case filing, evidence submsion, hearing and judgment to execution of judgment are conducted on the internet, Du noted. Each action by parties to the proceedings continuously recorded real-time.

Th means that litigants can undergo the entire process without leaving home.

"The introduction of the Hangzhou internet court represents a major institutional innovation aimed at adapting the judicial system to advances in internet technology, as the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms adved," Zhu Shenyuan noted.

President Xi Jinping heads the Central Leading Group.

The innovative internet-based litigation platform mandates that judges be familiar with law as well as the internet, and keep themselves abreast of the latest internet technologies and their applications. They also must innovate the exting system in terms of courts' jurdictions and adjudication procedures. "The end goal to create new channels for dpute resolution with the internet court as the final decion-making body," Zhu added.

Hangzhou's web court has deved procedures and rules centered on standard litigation procedures and live video recording of online trials. However, many sues related to litigant identification, online cross-examination and online behavior control remain to be tackled.

Online litigants are anonymous and virtual entities, making it exceedingly difficult to verify their identities.

A plaintiff must have h/her identity verified before filing a case with the court, per the Rules of Civil Procedure of the Hangzhou Court of the Internet. For identification of parties, the court now relies on real-name regtration of internet users, facial recognition and offline identity verification, Du adved.

How can a judge tell if evidence submitted authentic or not? Litigants are required to submit photos of evidence, scanned copies or electronic evidence to the platform, Du explained. Where physical evidence involved, it typically delivered to the judge by post before trial. Evidence dplayed online for the reference of all parties. Once judgment rendered, enforcement can also be applied for online.

Another problem how to ensure continuous a network connection during a trial? What if someone deliberately interrupts a live hearing?

The courts procedure rules provide that if a plaintiff drops out during a trial without proper justification, the case will be deemed to have been dmsed, while if the defendant dconnected, the trial will proceed in h/her absence, he said. 

"We record the entire trial process with intelligent voice recognition enabled, and the recordings can be used as evidence of offenses that affect court order and implicate obstruction of justice," he noted.

Hangzhou cyber-court currently characterized as a special court, akin to admiralty, military, railroad and forestry courts, court sources told Yicai Global.

Follow Yicai Global on
Keywords: Internet Court , Internet Litigation , Hangzhou