Online mediation mitigates court processes

(China Daily) Updated : 2020-09-09

Official from tribunal says aim is to ease residents' access to legal services

A groom surnamed Sun was able to resolve his dispute over wedding photos with a Beijing company within 30 minutes through online mediation during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Starting and ending a conflict in the cloud was so convenient, and it also prevented trouble with traffic," said Sun, 32, who faced difficulty returning to the capital from Hebei province due to travel restrictions amid the pandemic in March when the Changping District People's Court mediated the case.

People are given the right to decide the way they want to deal with disputes, and courts nationwide will respect their decisions and help them obtain as many legal services as possible simultaneously online and offline when they turn to a court, according to Qian Xiaochen, head of the Case Filing Tribunal at the Supreme People's Court.

In other words, residents not only enjoy litigation-related services in a court, including case filings and hearings, but can also receive mediation or arbitration at the same time.

Such "one-stop" service centers with integrated legal services have been built and promoted in courts across the country since last year.

Statistics released recently by the SPC showed that more than 3,200 Chinese courts established online mediation offices in 2019, helping resolve nearly 3 million disputes before litigation.

"Our aim is to offer residents easier access to legal services, saving them time and reducing their costs," Qian said, adding that meeting the goal requires courts at all levels to improve judicial efficiency by strengthening adoption of internet and related technologies.

By mid-August, the hotline 12368 answered 47 million legal questions, while 98 percent of the courts provided legal services on their websites, according to the top court.

In addition, a mobile platform established on WeChat in March last year has been playing a bigger role in helping people resolve disputes and legal affairs, the court said, adding that 3.79 million cases were filed on the platform from January to August, with the delivery of 1.77 million verdicts.

Zhi Hui, a national legislator, lauded the convenience offered by courts, "as these practical and effective measures can really help us solve problems and receive justice".

Given that many legal services are supplied in different online platforms, the top court is considering integrating legal sources into one, hoping to make the mobile platform the entryway for the public to access the services, making the process much easier and more efficient, Qian added.