Courts close, but services continue through outbreak

( Updated : 2020-01-31

The legal service center and litigant reception room at the Supreme People's Court and its intellectual property court in Beijing have been temporarily closed since Jan 30 due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

Such closures have also been carried out at the top court's six circuit courts in Shenzhen of Guangdong province, Shenyang of Liaoning province, Nanjing of Jiangsu province, Zhengzhou of Henan province, Chongqing municipality and Xi'an of Shaanxi province.

Reopenings will be decided according to the epidemic situation, according to a notice issued by the top court on Thursday.

The top court suggested litigants submit materials through the internet or by post, adding people can dial 12368, a litigation service hotline, to ask questions about their litigation or ask for legal services.

On Tuesday, the top court ordered courts nationwide to guide litigants to file lawsuits or mediate their disputes online.

It urged courts across the country to make full use of their online platforms for litigation, such as those for case filing and ruling delivery, to ensure litigants and lawyers get better legal services and protection during this period.

Case hearings should be postponed to reduce people's visits or travels to courts, the top court said.

Courts at all levels should strictly implement the Criminal Law to effectively punish people who interfere in disease prevention and control, and those who make or sell fake medicines or medical facilities.

People who illegally purchase and transport wild animals, start or spread rumors or harm medical workers will also be strictly punished according to law.