The issue of service has always been one of the difficulties in litigation proceedings. A Chinese court, Donggang Court of Liaoning Province, innovatively came up with a solution to this problem. The court uses an electronic data platform, a chat software that Chinese citizens often use, WeChat, to deliver the service of summons.
On 13th June 2020, the presiding judge of a case, Judge Wang, contacted the defendant Mr. Kang, who was in Pakistan, through the court’s official WeChat and sent him a copy of case materials, including the civil complaint, evidence provided by the plaintiff, subpoena, etc. through WeChat. The defendant also provided the court with his statement of defence through WeChat. After the judgment was made, the defendant expressed his thanks to Judge Wang for “making a fair judgment” in the case. With regard to the defendant’s question about how the judgment will be enforced, Judge Wang also answered this question through WeChat.
In another case heard by Donggang Court, the presiding judge of that case also served the defendant, Ms. Li, who was in Australia, through the court’s official WeChat, sent her the case materials and informed her that she can provide her defence and case materials to the court through WeChat. After the case was closed, the defendant thanked the court for its helpful method of handling her case.
The above are examples of the pioneering work of Chinese courts in handling disputes. Although the parties to the above two cases were abroad, Donggang court chose an approach that was convenient to the parties: to send case documents to parties who are outside China through WeChat, inform parties of their rights and obligations, answer parties’ questions after judgment, etc.; and the parties can also fully express their opinion to the judge through WeChat. This new initiative of the courts can be deemed a good omen for China’s progress in the rule of law.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese government has been strict in the control of the epidemic. While epidemic prevention policies and controls are enforced in a normalized manner, the Chinese government promotes online court trials, maximizing the advantages of electronic delivery platforms to provide convenience for parties in litigation and accelerates the construction of “smart courts”.
(Photo credit: mutindi.com)