China Opens Digital Court For E-Commerce Disputes

A new Chinese court dedicated exclusively to handling e-commerce disputes has been established in Hangzhou, a hub of digital retail in China and home to Alibaba. The concept has been in test mode since 2015, and over the past two years over 22,000 cases have already been processed, with the average time for a trial approximately 30 minutes.

Hangzhou Internet Court was formally approved by the central Chinese Government last week, and has already accepted 1500 formal cases. The court itself is housed in an existing court building, but is believed to be the first know court in the world to deal exclusively with e-commerce disputes. With the rising tide of online piracy, counterfeiting and general e-commerce disputes, the booming digital retail industry in China welcomes the initiative.

“The internet court could improve the efficiency of case handling because both parties of an e-commerce case are often not in a same city,” a statement from the court reads. “It’s a new path for us to solve the rising number of e-commerce disputes, since most of them have clear facts and solid evidence.”

According to the court, online shoppers using the court’s video technology and software to submit claims are saving millions of yuan in legal costs, with the ability to file a suit online in under five minutes. The Hangzhou Internet Court will hear seven kinds of lawsuits, including those which involve online shopping, online debt contracts and online copyright disputes.

“It is a big step for online justice given the fact that the internet is developing very fast,” said Wu Shenkuo, head of the research centre of the Internet Society of China.

Judges at the internet court are required to have a good knowledge of the internet, according to Zhao Zhanling, a lawyer specialising in information technology. “The judicial circle should bring together professionals familiar with the internet,” Zhao said.

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