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Cross-border litigation services online

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-05 08:49
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People from other countries and residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan can file cases and access litigation services online, the Supreme People's Court said on Wednesday.

The court will provide services including case filing guidelines, case registration and the answering of queries. Litigants who use their smartphones to register their names and verify their identities via the China Mobile Micro Court mini program on the WeChat instant messaging platform or through its website can access the services, the country's top court said in a document about online filing for cross-border litigants.

The document said the scope of the online services includes first-time civil and commercial litigation. The regulations came into effect on Wednesday.

The services are available in simplified and traditional Chinese character as well as English. People from the Chinese mainland living overseas and mainland enterprises or organizations registered in other countries and regions will also be able to access them.

The court will use the identity authentication platform of the National Immigration Administration to verify the identities of litigants who apply for the first time, with litigants able to view the result online within three working days.

If a person's identity cannot be verified online, the court will do the verification manually after receiving notarized documents by mail.

Litigants who want to entrust their case to mainland lawyers will be able to apply for the services of an online video witness after their identities are verified. A judge will witness the signing of entrustment documents by litigants and lawyers through a live online video feed. The lawyers will then be able to represent the litigants in online filing, online payment and other matters.

When applying for online filing, litigants should submit a statement of complaint, evidence and materials confirming their certificates-all in simplified Chinese characters.

The court will file cases within seven working days of successful applications. If the materials do not meet the requirements, the court will notify the litigants and give them 15 days to make corrections, which can be extended to 30 days if they apply for more time.

Litigants will be able to check the progress of their applications online, and specific reasons will be given when the material in failed applications is sent back.

The new regulations will allow lawyers to have more time to handle cases and improve services for foreign-related business, said Zhou Xianbao, a lawyer at Beijing Zhongwen Law Firm.

Online filing will enable all parties involved in litigation to work efficiently and save time and money, Zhou said, adding that the regulations fully demonstrated the confidence of China's legal system.

In the context of globalization and the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting overseas people's litigation rights is an important issue for all courts, said Wang Lifeng, a professor at the National Academy of Governance.

The new regulations offer litigants an online option and ensure fairness and justice, Wang said.

Promoting online filing has great significance in creating a law-based social and business environment, and promoting the construction of smart courts, he said.

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