China’s “smart” courts have reportedly been implementing various innovative technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to help decide legal cases.
Local media outlet Xinhua news revealed recently that over 3.1 million Chinese litigation matters from March to October 2019 were handled via the blockchain and AI-enhanced “smart internet courts.”
These “courts of the future” allow people to talk to non-human, virtual, AI-enhanced judges in front of several screens, which eliminates the need for them having to make physical court appearances. The system also allows people to get their court decisions via text messages or major messaging platforms.
After launching the “smart internet” court in Hangzhou in 2017, China reportedly established similar services in Beijing and Guangzhou. In April of this year, Zhang Wen, president at Beijing Internet Court, noted that the court uses AI and blockchain tech to provide judgment.
Zhang stated in April:
“In the current use of AI as an assistant to make rulings, efficiency is prioritized over accuracy. A human judge is ultimately responsible for the fair ruling. […] But we are heading toward a future when we can see an AI judge sitting at the podium.”
A report from the Supreme People’s Court reveals that over 1 million Chinese residents are currently registered with the smart court system, in addition to 73,200 lawyers.
In September 2018, the Chinese Supreme Court ruled that evidence verified or authenticated with blockchain or distributed ledger technology is binding in legal disputes.
The Supreme Court stated:
“Internet courts shall recognize digital data that are submitted as evidence if relevant parties collected and stored these data via blockchain with digital signatures, reliable timestamps and hash value verification or via a digital deposition platform, and can prove the authenticity of such technology used.”