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Chinese courts go on cloud amid virus epidemic

(Xinhua)    14:57, February 22, 2020

HANGZHOU, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Dressed in a robe and facing the screen, Lou Keke, a judge with a local court in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, was hearing a criminal case without a plaintiff, defendant or lawyer in attendance.

It was an online trial conducted by the People's Court of Tonglu County on an Internet court platform amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China.

The case concerned a violation of epidemic prevention and control regulations. With legal procedures completed, the defendant was sentenced to nine months in prison.

"During the special period, in order to avoid risks of epidemic spread, as well as to adjudicate cases efficiently and ensure the parties' legitimate interests, the court decided to use the online court platform," Lou said.

Xu Mi, vice president of the Intermediate People's Court of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, said that the court's function and service cannot be interrupted, especially in cases involving violence against medical workers as well as production and sales of fake and shoddy commodities at during this tough time.

On Jan. 28, five days after Zhejiang activated its highest level of emergency response to control the novel coronavirus, the province encouraged all its courts to handle cases via various online platforms including internet courts.

To improve online court services, technologies such as voice and video recording and recognition, electronic files, as well as case records and intelligent analysis have been applied, according to Xu.

Zhejiang courts also set up an online Diversified Disputes Resolution Platform to help mediate civil and commercial lawsuits, Xu added.

Statistics show from Feb. 1 to 20, the number of visits to the online platform reached over 92,500, and the total number of applications for online mediation exceeded 2,250.

"It is convenient and time-saving. Our team has already resolved two disputes online," said Meng Xun, a lawyer of the Hangzhou DHH Law Firm.

Nationwide, China has set up three Internet courts in Hangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou to practice online litigation procedures from filing a case to issuing judgment documents.

In the meantime, the Supreme People's Court of China has also promoted the use of "mobile micro court" on the social media platform WeChat in 12 provinces and cities to help courts conduct trials on the Internet.

According to data released by the Higher People's Court of Zhejiang, from Feb. 1 to 17, the "mobile court" had more than 5.7 million visits and over 720 cases filed.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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