Court cases heard online rise 453% year-on-year

( Updated : 2020-04-08

Chinese courts have seen a sharp rise of online case hearings over the past few months since the country was hit by the novel coronavirus, China's top court said on April 7.

From Feb 3 to March 31, about 150,000 cases were heard online by courts nationwide, up more than 453 percent year-on-year, according to statistics of the Supreme People's Court.

"It was the outbreak that prompted courts at each level to make full use of their online platforms, and the way that transfers litigation from offline to online could not only ensure the health and safety of litigants, but also meet their legal demands more efficiently," the top court said in a statement.

Between Feb 3 and Feb 27, for example, a smartphone application called Yunfating, which literally means "trial in the cloud" and was developed by the Beijing High People's Court, was used by courts citywide 6,608 times as an effective move to prevent litigants from being infected and reduce delays of lawsuits amid the outbreak.

To regulate online hearings during the outbreak, the top court issued a guideline in February, clarifying that online trials must be conducted after getting approval from litigants and also stipulating that holding a hearing online should depend on how complicated a case is and whether a court has the requisite technical expertise.

Also, it said courts across the country must take advantage of the 12368 hotline and their other online systems to guide people in filing cases, in mediation, exchange of evidence, announcing rulings and delivering verdicts to provide more convenience for litigants and give them easier access to litigation.

Statistics provided by the top court on Tuesday also showed that courts nationwide filed 2.92 million cases from Feb 3 to March 31, of which 706,000 were filed online. Meanwhile, 302,000 disputes were mediated online, up about 89 percent year-on-year.

"All courts have been ordered to become more technology-friendly by upgrading their online platforms to provide stronger legal protection for litigants and uphold justice," the top court added in the statement.