Chinese courts urged to promote online services amid virus battle

( Updated : 2020-02-19

BEIJING -- Chinese courts have been mobilized to promote and improve online litigation services as the country is battling the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to the Supreme People's Court (SPC).

The move aims to better meet people's judicial needs and ensure the smooth and orderly operation of courts despite the coronavirus outbreak, said a new SPC circular.

The circular demands courts at all levels make good use of mobile and online litigation service platforms and move their work online, including case filing, mediation, evidence exchange, court hearing, sentencing and document delivery.

Courts need to fully consider factors such as technological realities, case conditions and the wishes of the parties while determining whether to adopt online court hearings, and should specify circumstances under which online court hearings are not applicable, the circular said.

The SPC called on courts to upgrade and increase functions of online service platforms to ensure that people can access various litigation services at home.

Online case handling by courts should be run as a regular mechanism amid the virus battle, according to the circular, which specifically asked the three internet courts based in Hangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou to step up exploration in the regard.

China set up its first Internet court in the eastern city of Hangzhou in August 2017, followed by the establishment of similar courts in Beijing and Guangzhou in September 2018.

Internet courts in Hangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou had accepted close to 120,000 cases as of Oct. 31, 2019, reducing the time of handling cases by nearly 50 percent, according to a white paper released by the SPC.