China steps up online litigation services amid coronavirus epidemic

(Xinhua) Updated : 2020-03-31

BEIJING -- Chinese courts have been urged to make full use of information technology in litigation work since the outbreak of the coronavirus, according to the Supreme People's Court (SPC).

From Feb. 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 for more than 200,000 times, according to data from the SPC.

The number of evidence exchange and electronic delivery made online was more than 130,000 and 1.67 million, respectively, it added.

A recent circular issued by the SPC called on Chinese courts to move their work online, including case filing, mediation, evidence exchange, court hearing, sentencing and document delivery, aiming to meet people's judicial needs and ensure the smooth and orderly operation of courts despite the virus outbreak.

On Feb. 21, the Beijing Internet Court released the country's first protocol of an online court hearing with 26 procedures, stipulating the details from online identity authentication to transcripts of hearings in a video courtroom.

"The regulation was formulated based on the experience of 13,509 online trials with a total length of 7,792 hours," said Zhang Wen, president of the Beijing Internet Court, adding that the experience can be used as a reference for other courts conducting online court hearings during the epidemic.

Courts at all levels have also taken measures such as strengthening Internet surveillance and promoting online judicial auctions to ensure enforcement amid the epidemic.