By Zheng Sophia Tang, Wuhan University (China) and Newcastle University (UK)
Mr Ting Liao, PhD candidate at the Wuhan University Institute of International Law, published a note on the Chinese Smart Court, which attracted a lot of interest and attention. We have responded a few enquires and comments, some relating to the procedure and feasibility of virtual/remote hearing. Based on the questions we have received, this note provides more details on how the virtual hearing is conducted in China.
The fast development of virtual hearing and its wide use in practice in China are attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic causes serious disruption to litigation. China is a country that has adopted the toughest prevention and controlling measures. Entrance restriction, lockdown, quarantine and social distancing challenge the court process and case management. In the meantime, this challenge offers the Chinese courts a chance to reform and modernize their judicial systems by utilizing modern technology. Since suspending limitation period may lead to backlog and delay, more Chinese courts favour the virtual proceedings. This strategy improves judicial efficiency and helps parties’ access to justice in the unusual circumstances.