The Supreme Court of China recognized the validity of evidence authenticated in the blockchain. And in Beijing, opened the second Internet court. This means that for the first time in the history of the world, justice institutions will be able to operate with virtual certificates and consider online claims. So, almost imperceptibly, in the legal science, there was a real legal tech revolution. Let’s try to figure out what value this will have for the digital economy and for legal reality.
Questions about the acceptance of information stored and confirmed in the distributed ledger arose after the establishment of a separate judicial panel in Hangzhou, China to deal with disputes related to digital data and Internet technologies. The precedent did not wait for itself. The court rose to defend copyright, confirmed only in the blockchain. As a result, the case reached the highest court.
The cassation ruling says:
“Courts who review Internet-related cases online are subject to confirmation of the identity of the defendant and the plaintiff on the basis of biometrics, electronic signature or the Unified Identification and Authentication Platform. <…> Courts should recognize digital data submitted as evidence, provided that the parties concerned collect and store this data in a blockchain with electronic signatures, reliable time stamps, as well as verification of the hash function or through the digital placement platform and may confirm the legitimacy of the technology used. ”
Thus, the Supreme Court recognized that the evidence on the Internet is of a material nature and does not need additional evidence. Moreover, the hearing of the case can now take place without the physical presence of the participants in the process or their representatives, without the formal signing of claims and responses to claims.
In fact, what happened in China, was waited and feared by lawyers around the world. The trial went to the network, and the absence, in fact, of a formal procedure can deprive them of a significant share of the fees.
But the Chinese judicial authorities can be understood. For example, from January to August, only 37,361 cases involving Internet were opened in Beijing alone. This is a 24.4% increase over the same period last year.
The rampant increase in the number of claims served as an incentive to open the same Internet court in the capital.
“We expect that the parties will have access to more efficient and faster legal services in court, which is equipped with high-tech devices that will effectively protect not only the interests of citizens but also their personal data,” said the spokesman of the High People’s Court of Beijing An Fende. “In addition, we hope that the court will become a scientific base for studying new types of disputes related to the Internet and will resolve many acute issues of digital law.”
Commenting on the words of the official, High Court judge Liu Shuhan explained that the parties can file materials, track their claims, attend hearings and communicate with judges after registering the account on the site bjinternet.gov.cn, where their identities will be confirmed by face recognition and authentication technology of the real names.
“This convenience of the court comes from high-tech devices,” she stressed. “For example, we now have an automated document-making system that records standard information in regulations, leaving just the specifics of the case to the judges, and an electronic delivery system that sends sentences to the parties much faster than before.”
The example of Hangzhou was contagious. And quite justifiably, since only for a year the internets-court has considered more than 11,000 cases, of which 9,600 were completed. On average, the process lasted 38 days, which is about half as much as in conventional courts.
And what next, how will the world’s judicial system develop? And will there appear, in addition to electronic courts, digital judges? But this is more difficult. LegalTech in its extreme manifestation at the level of adoption of legally significant decisions is still outside the legal field.
The whole point is that the legal source is the source of law in the vast majority of legislative systems. In one form or another, it appears in the Chinese, and in French law, and in the American and British legislation.
The legal precedent is a tradition of resolving disputes and disagreements that has been formed for centuries. Accordingly, the understanding of disagreement is a direct or indirect clash between the opinions of two people. It does not matter how a person is represented, whether it is a physical person, an organization that belongs to someone, or a state, with elected or autocratic rulers. It does not matter where the process takes place – in the courtroom or online. All the same, the law always has a real person who will never give up his right to power.