Courts get smarter, more convenient
Blue book says litigants can now use websites to access range of services
People can get quicker access to a broader range of legal services now that Chinese courts have become "smarter" due to the adoption of more technological applications, a blue book said last week.
By the end of last year, 98 percent of courts across the country had opened websites offering residents litigation-related services, according to The Blue Book on Rule of Law: Informatization of Chinese Courts, which was jointly issued on Wednesday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Law and the Social Sciences Academic Press.
That means litigants can initiate lawsuits either offline or online in almost every court nationwide.
"Or, in short, people can file cases anywhere and at anytime," Lyu Yanbin, a researcher at the institute, said when introducing the book to the public.
As well as accessing litigation-related services through the websites, litigants can also obtain services such as mediation, case searches and billing and payment by mobile phone, he said.
"All these online services not only aim to meet people's higher demands on the judiciary and give them easier access to litigation, but also reflect our courts' determination to serve residents and uphold justice by innovation," Lyu said.
The Chinese court system's mobile platform received more than 2.17 million visits last year, with about 3.71 million cases filed and 54,000 cases heard, the book said.
It said online services have also improved judicial efficiency, especially during the COVID-19 epidemic.
From Feb 3 to Dec 31 last year, courts nationwide heard more than 800,000 cases online, up 160 percent year-on-year, it added.
Thanks to the building of smart courts, trials and the enforcement of rulings were not greatly affected during the outbreak, the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, said in its annual work report, which was released last month.
More technologies, including artificial intelligence and blockchain, have been applied to judicial affairs, the report said, and three internet courts－in Beijing, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and Guangzhou, Guangdong province－have overseen litigation-related rules in cyberspace while promoting the sector's development through case hearings.
But Lyu said many areas still need to be improved. "For instance, similar judicial data on different online platforms should be integrated," he said. Otherwise, such scattered portals or sites for litigants and their lawyers may not be convenient."
How to strengthen cybersecurity for online judicial platforms also needed to be considered, he said, suggesting courts across the country increase their capacity to monitor and handle security risks.