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Last July, we shared a blog entry concerning a new judgment by the “Hangzhou Internet Court,” the first court specializing in internet-related matters in China, which held that information stored in blockchain had a time stamp that was admissible as evidence in court. Another internet court was recently launched in Beijing, and a third such court is to open in Guangzhou.

On September 3, China’s Supreme People’s Court issued provisions dealing with issues concerning trials by the internet courts, which took effect on September 7, 2018.

Article 11 of these provisions relates to challenges raised against electronic evidence by one of the parties at trial, based on which the internet courts will admit and confirm the electronic data where the veracity of the electronic data submitted by the parties can be proven by technical means for compiling, protecting, and preventing falsification of evidence, such as electronic signatures, certifiable time stamps, verification of the hash function, blockchain and electronic evidence submitted via the online evidence exchange platform.

The parties can ask a technical expert for an opinion regarding technical issues relating to the electronic data. At the request of the parties or at the direction of the judge, the courts can commission an expert to analyze the veracity of the electronic data or verify other relevant evidence.

One of the advances of these specialized courts is that, as stipulated in the mentioned provisions, internet courts can implement an online platform—the “litigation platform”—to be used exclusively for court proceedings, to file all documents and exhibits to be submitted by the parties or by third parties involved in the lawsuit, and for all procedures and activities connected with the proceedings. In line with article 5, procedures carried out over the litigation platform are legally valid. The provisions also establish that, except in special circumstances where it is considered necessary to confirm the identity of the parties, verify original documents or inspect physical objects, trials will be held over a video and audio (streaming) system.

These provisions are a new step forward in recognizing the legal validity of blockchain technology in China and digitization of court proceedings.

 

By Andrea Ortega y Omar Puertas 

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