The world’s first court specialising in handling internet-related cases opened last week in China in the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, the central hub of e-commerce.

The Hangzhou Internet Court (the “Court”) will trial internet related disputes on the Online Dispute Platform (www.netcourt.gov.cn, the “Platform”). The Court follows the same procedure as normal trials but implements all procedures via the internet on the Platform. The procedures to be followed by the Court are detailed in the Trial Rules of the Hangzhou Internet Court Dispute Platform (the “Rules”). The key aspects of the Rules are summarised below:

Scope of jurisdiction

The Court will mainly handle the following types of cases that fall within the jurisdiction of the people's courts of first instance in Hangzhou:

  1. Disputes regarding contracts of online shopping, services, microfinance loans etc.;
  2. Disputes relating to the ownership and infringement of online copyright;
  3. Disputes relating to infringing other person’s personal rights via internet;
  4. Disputes relating to product liability infringement of products bought online;
  5. Disputes regarding domain names;
  6. Administrative disputes raised because of administration measures on the internet;
  7. Other internet related civil or administrative cases designated by the higher courts.

Online prosecution procedures

All prosecution procedures will be conducted via the Platform, including filing for litigation, accepting the case, paying litigation fees, delivering documents, mediating the case, submitting evidence, cross-examining upon the evidence, pre-trial hearing, the hearing itself, delivering the verdict and executing judgements.

Registration and real name verification

Parties involved in the dispute will be registered with the Platform and be verified via online real name verification, face recognition or off-line verification.

Pre-mediation process

Before the case has been taken to court, a mediation process will be undertaken. The mediation period lasts for 15 days and can be extended. During this period, a mediator will help both parties to mediate the dispute. If the mediation fails then the case will be taken to court and transferred to the relevant judge.

Automatically generated records and documents

The hearing will be videoed and the videos will serve as trial records. If written records are required, a Speech Recognition System will generate the trial records automatically.

Judges will also use artificial intelligence technology to draft judgements.

The first case filed with the Court was an online copyright infringement case in which both parties agreed to mediate in the 20 minutes' video hearing.

The Court will explore the possibility of organising online trials, and in the future will establish more tailor-made and efficient trial models to suit the development of e-commerce activities. An online trial regime would allow parties to perform all procedures via an online platform, in particular attending the hearing online without going to the court, which will significantly improve the efficiency of the process and will be more convenient for the parties.