China’s first court dedicated to Internet-related disputes has been founded in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, home of prominent Chinese tech companies that include Internet giant Alibaba.
Said to be the first of its kind in the world, the Hangzhou Court of the Internet also allows the entire legal process to take place online – from filing, submitting evidence and testimony, to the trial itself and the verdict – in efforts to promote the integration of the Internet and society.
According to the financial news site Caixin.com, the new court will hear six types of civil and administrative cases, including online intellectual property rights and e-commerce disputes.
The vice presiding judge of the court, Wang Jiangqiao, said it would improve efficiency by giving judges the power to check plaintiffs' indictments and defendants' replies without being constrained by time or space. He said litigants, too, would be able to watch or later retrieve cases using the platform.
The new court could be used to explore better Internet regulation, said Xiao Jianhua, a law professor at Beihang University, who added that it would drive innovation in the court system and likely expand its jurisdiction over time.
But Yu Zhigang, deputy president of the China University of Political Science and Law, warned it was not an appropriate model for tackling all cases, for instance criminal matters.
Chen Guomeng, president of the Higher People's Court of Zhejiang, said the rapid development of cyberspace had brought a commensurate increase in online disputes. A court that heard cases online was a good model that could be expanded across the country, he said.