Court reforms swell filings in civil cases

By Zhang Yi (China Daily USA) Updated : 2017-05-19

The judicial reform launched two years ago has made it easier for lawsuits to be filed, resulting in a rapid rise in the number of court cases, the nation's top court said on May 18.

In response to public complaints about the difficulty and inconvenience in filing lawsuits, the Supreme People's Court implemented a new litigation policy in May 2015.

Courts at all levels were prohibited from declining a case if it meets basic legal criteria, and a preliminary review of merits was waived.

As a result, more than 31 million lawsuits were filed in courts nationwide between May 1, 2015, and March 1, up by 34 percent from the period from July 1, 2013, to April 30, 2015, data from the top court show.

"There's a consensus in society that the reform has greatly facilitated litigation, improved efficiency and eased the burden on litigants," said Gan Wen, deputy head of the top court's Case Filing Tribunal.

He Jianwei, deputy head of Zhejiang High People's Court, said courts in the province have made efforts to facilitate litigants by making online filing of lawsuits possible.

Plaintiffs may register to file a case and submit their documents online.

"The platform is particularly helpful for residents in remote villages and islands," He said.

In Shanghai Pudong New Area, plaintiffs are allowed to file complaints through WeChat, a popular social media app in China.

"Simply by scanning the QR code given by the court and typing in information as required, a new QR code for individual cases is created," said Zhang Bin, head of the Pudong New Area People's Court.

A case filing process is completed after plaintiffs submit the new QR code on their smartphone screen to the case filing window at court. The process takes on average 15 minutes to complete, he said.

Zhang said that more than 23,700 cases were filed through WeChat in the past year, accounting for about 17 percent of all cases filed in that period.

Across the country, 2,605 courts have provided online case filing services as well as online reservation services for filing a cases in person, according to the top court.