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Courts turn to texts for notifications

By Lu Chen (Global Times)

10:22, October 25, 2012

Shanghai's courts began Wednesday sending out legal notifications via text message in an effort to keep litigants better informed and stymie scammers posing as court officials, the Shanghai Higher People's Court announced at a press conference.

The courts send out all official text messages from a platform that uses the number 12368. "All of the courts in Shanghai have adopted this platform so that residents can tell the difference between messages sent by the court, spam messages and those sent by scammers," said Shen Zhixian, vice president of the Shanghai Higher People's Court.

Shanghai police have repeatedly warned about scammers who pose as court staff members in an attempt to part local residents from their personal information, including bank account and national identification card numbers, according to local media reports.

The Shanghai court system handles about 440,000 cases every year and each case requires the court to send out multiple documents, Shen said.

The court will use text message to deliver some legal notifications such as court summons, but not verdicts, settlement agreements and court orders. The messages will include both the names of the court and the judge presiding over the case.

The text messages will only supplement paper notices, which the court will continue to send out to litigants, said Li Wei, press officer for the Shanghai Higher People's Court. "We aren't phasing out paper documents," Li told the Global Times. "But text messages will make the delivery of court notifications more efficient because they arrive faster than by mail, which can suffer delays if the recipient is out of town."

Courts in Yangpu district, Minhang district and Pudong New Area sent out 58,000 text messages to 23,000 people as part of a trial of the system, Shen said. The trial went over well with residents and staff members, so the court decided to implement it citywide.

In addition, judges have access to the system so they can have a clear idea about when a recipient receives a notice, Shen added.
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