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Blockchain as An Evidence: China Implements Legaltech in Court System

Oleg Koldayev

The Supreme Court of China recognized the validity of evidence authenticated in the blockchain. And in Beijing, the second in the Celestial Empire Internet court  was opened. This means that the institutions of justice will be able to operate with virtual certificates and consider online claims for the first time in world history. So almost imperceptibly in the legal science, a real legal-tech revolution has happened. Let's try to figure out what value this will have for the digital economy and for the legal reality.

Issues on the adoption of information stored and confirmed in the distributed registry arose after the establishment of a separate judicial panel in Hangzhou, China, to handle disputes related to digital data and Internet technologies. The precedent was not late in arriving. The court rallied to the defense of copyright, confirmed only in the blockchain. As a result, the case reached the Supreme Court of Justice.

The cassational ruling says:

"Courts judging Internet-related cases online, subject to the confirmation of the identity of the defendant and the applicant on the basis of biometrics, electronic signature or the Unified Identification and Authentication Platform. <...> Courts must recognize digital data given in evidence, on conditions that the parties concerned collect and store these data in the blockchain with electronic signatures, reliable time marks, as well as with verification of the value of the hash function or through the digital allocation platform and can confirm the legitimacy of the technology used."

Thus, the Supreme Court admitted that the evidence on the Internet was of a material nature and did not need any additional evidence. Moreover, the hearing of the case can now take place without the physical presence of the participants in the process or their representatives, without the formal signing of claims and responses.

In fact, the thing happened in the Celestial Empire is that the lawyers around the world waited for and were afraid of. The trial went to the network and the absence of, in fact, a formal procedure can deprive them of a significant share of the fees.

But it's easy to understand the Chinese judicial authorities. For example, from January to August, 37.631 cases related to the Internet were initiated only in Beijing. This is a 24,4% increase over the same period last year.

The massive increase in the number of claims gave an impulse to opening the same Internet court in Beijing.

"We expect that the parties will have access to more efficient and faster legal services in court, which is equipped with high-tech devices that will effectively protect not only the interests of residents but also their personal data," the spokesperson of the High People's Court of Beijing An FENGDE said. "In addition, we hope that the court will become a scientific base for studying new types of disputes related to the Internet and will resolve many acute issues of the digital law."

Commenting on the words of the official, the High Court judge Liu SHUHAN explained that the parties could present materials, track their claims, attend hearings, and communicate with judges after registering the account on the site bjinternet.gov.cn, where their identities would be confirmed by face recognition and real names authentication technology.

"This convenience of the court comes from high-tech devices," she emphasized. "For example, we now have the automated document-filing system that records standard information in regulations, leaving just the specifics of the case to the judges, and the electronic delivery system that sends sentences to the parties much faster than before."

Hangzhou’s example turned out to be inspiring. What’s more, on a reasonable basis, since only for a year the Internet court considered more than 11.000 cases, of which 9.600 were completed. On average, the process lasted 38 days, which is about half as much as in conventional courts.

And what comes next? How will the world judicial system develop? And will there be digital judges as well as electronic courts?

This is more difficult. Legal Tech, in its extreme form, is still outside the legal field at the level of adoption of legally significant decisions.

The fact of the matter is that a legal custom serves as the legal source in the vast majority of legislative systems. In one form or another, it appears in the Chinese and French law, and in the American and British legislation.

A legal custom is a tradition of resolving disputes and disagreements that has been formed for centuries. Accordingly, the understanding of disagreement is a direct or indirect conflict of opinions of two people. It does not matter how a person is represented, whether it is a physical person, an organization that belongs to someone, or a state, with elected or absolute rulers. It doesn't matter where the process takes place, in the courtroom or online. In any case, a real person who will never give up his or her right to control always stands behind the law.

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