The Internet court is an innovative move China’s judicial system adopted to embrace the rapid penetration of digital technology into people’s daily lives, according to experts.
“In the Internet era, disputing parties may come from different cities with respective judicial authorities,” noted Yu Zhigang, a law professor with China University of Political Science and Law. Therefore, nearly all of such lawsuits had to first specify a responsible court, which was time and energy-consuming for plaintiffs, defendants and judges. Besides, judges might find it difficult to judge an Internet-related case according to traditional lawsuit regulations.
Yu said a court established for Internet-related cases will enable judges to focus on how to improve trials and hearings instead of being caught up in tedious red tape.
“Accused Internet companies can also save considerable expense on traveling for summonses of courts in different cities,” added Yu.
For example, online consumers in Beijing don’t have to make the trip all the way to Hangzhou to sue Taobao, China’s largest online marketplace. It was also unnecessary for the Hangzhou-based company to send staff to court in Beijing when lawsuits were filed there.
The online court also allowed judges to make more informed decisions with the help of big data. “Connected with the online system, they can reference similar cases and check on financial records, transactions and credit records of the involved parties when necessary,” said Du.
The location of the first Internet court was also carefully chosen. Hangzhou is home to e-commerce giant Alibaba Group that offers a widely-used mobile payment system and the largest online marketplace.