Litigation access easier as courts get 'smarter'

(CHINA DAILY) Updated : 2020-06-04

Chinese people have been given easier access to litigation and more convenient legal services, thanks to courts that are becoming "smarter", according to a report issued on June 3 by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The report, by the academy's Institute of Law, highlighted the significance of, and achievements realized by, building smart or information-based courts nationwide, noting the move has not only improved judicial efficiency but also promoted litigation-related services.

The report cited statistics from the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, showing that 97.8 percent of courts supported online case filing in 2019, which means litigants could initiate lawsuits from almost anywhere via internet access instead of having to go to a court.

The online exchange of evidence and online case hearings were also practiced in more than half of the country's courts last year.

In addition, courts across the country have been strengthening judicial transparency by disclosing information about legal procedures and broadcasting case hearings through the internet, the report said.

For example, courts at all levels used an online platform to broadcast case hearings more than 3.9 million times last year, up 17.4 percent year-on-year.

All the figures show that the construction of smart courts has been mainly completed, the report concluded, calling for courts to make case handling more efficient and to improve the quality of legal services.

"We'll upgrade online platforms for dealing with cases this year, taking it as a priority in our work and completing auxiliary intelligent systems," said Xu Jianfeng, director of the top court's information center.

Based on a mobile platform offering legal services, the application of online litigation will be widely extended and optimized, Xu noted.

"The top court will also pay greater attention to judicial information security and educate more talent to support the building of smart courts," he said.

Lauding the intensified efforts in making courts more technology-friendly last year, Xu said smart courts also contributed to providing strong legal protection and efficient services during the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak.

Since the pandemic hit, Chinese courts have filed 1.36 million cases online, held 250,000 hearings and have mediated 590,000 cases on the internet, with large numbers of online evidence exchanges and deliveries, according to this year's work report of the top court.

"The smart court system has played a bigger role in easing litigation during the outbreak," Zhou Qiang, president of the top court, said while delivering the work report at the third session of the 13th National People's Congress on May 25.