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China boosts online litigation services amid coronavirus epidemic

CGTN | Updated: 2020-04-24


Chinese courts have been working to make full use of information technology in litigation work since the outbreak of the coronavirus. The online trial systems have helped citizens pursue justice during the outbreak.

Defendants and plaintiffs don't appear before the judge in person, but via video chat.

Online trials have become the new normal of China's judicial system.

"Since the coronavirus outbreak, we often talk about social distancing. Our smart court campaign nationwide and the online trial systems have answered the needs of the public to pursue justice," said Zhang Wen, president of the Beijing Internet Court.

A recent circular issued by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) called on Chinese courts to move their work online, including case filing, mediation, evidence exchange, court hearings, sentencing and document delivery, in a bid to meet people's judicial needs and ensure the smooth and orderly operation of the courts despite the virus outbreak.

In February, the Beijing Internet Court released the country's first protocol for an online court hearing with 26 procedures, stipulating many details, from online identity authentication to transcripts of hearings in a video courtroom.

Zhang told CGTN that their protocol was formulated based on the experience of more than 14,000 online trials with a total length of over 8,000 hours. Their experience can be used as a reference for other courts conducting online hearings during the epidemic.

From February 3 to March 20, courts at various levels filed nearly 550,000 cases online across the country, made over 440,000 payments online, held over 110,000 court sessions online, and conducted online mediation more than 200,000 times, according to data from the SPC.

They have also taken measures such as strengthening internet surveillance and promoting online judicial actions to ensure enforcement during the epidemic.