China / Government

Court conducts first trial via WeChat

By SHI BAOYIN and QI XIN in Zhengzhou, Henan ( Updated: 2016-01-13 11:15

The Zhengzhou Intermediate People's Court has started conducting some cases on WeChat, China's most popular instant messaging app, in an effort to provide flexibility and convenience for judges and far-flung lawyers.

The move is the first of its kind in China, and is an attempt to improve the quality of trial proceedings in the Internet era, Guo Xiaokun, a spokesman of Zhengzhou Intermediate People's Court, said on Monday.

The court conducted its first WeChat trial on Dec 17, employing the app's text and photo sharing abilities. The WeChat court is expected to make administrative lawsuits much easier, said Xue Yongsong, a staff member of the court.

"If all of the parties were in different cities, it really would take a lot of time for a traditional trial, summoning them to court for questioning and recording. The WeChat court trial took just a half an hour to deal with tasks that would have required a full day in the traditional system," Xue said.

Since the implementation of a revised system for lawsuit registration on May 1, the number of administrative lawsuits filed at the court increased 83 percent in one year, to 1,790 cases in 2015.

Wang Yongjie, director of the Beijing Zeyong Law Office, said WeChat trials could be fast and convenient as they would be free of time and place restrictions. But the platform most likely would be used for less controversial cases, especially administrative cases, he said.

Wei Liping, a judge at the court said, joined the first WeChat trial and said the new platform could play a helpful role. "We worked with both online and offline support, then we selected and chose some suitable cases," Wei said.

"For me, it really shortens the time and energy," Wei added, "It is useful as it gives judges more time to deal with more complex cases."

The WeChat trial system will be updated in the future, and a platform will be built to make it more standardized and orderly, with real-name identity authentication, data export abilities and privacy protection, Guo said.

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