Since 2017, the Hangzhou Internet Court in the People’s Republic of China has been breaking new ground in disputes relating to online transactions. The matters that come before the court relate to such areas as online shopping and services, small loans, domain-name ownership and copyright.
A year ago, the court established a judicial blockchain system that, among other features, allows it to keep track of evidence. Now, The Artificial Lawyer reports, it has become the first court in the world to embrace smart contracts.
The Hangzhou Internet Court, located in the capital of Zhejiang Province in eastern China, was established as a court of special jurisdiction – specifically, online disputes – in 2017. According to China Daily, it handled more than 11,000 cases in its first year.
“After setting up a blockchain database within the court,” reports The Artificial Lawyer, “the next logical step for its organisers [apparently was] to find a way to integrate smart contracts – i.e. legal agreements with computable elements, which can be self-executing – into the judicial process.”
The details of the “three intelligent model” (intelligent filing, intelligent trial, intelligent execution) used in the Hangzhou Court’s blockchain smart contract is described in a news item posted on hangzhou.net. In that post, Wang Jiangqiao, deputy director of the court, explains that “A smart contract can compile the terms of a contract into a set of computer code that runs automatically after the parties to the transaction sign.”
The Artificial Lawyer article explores the advantages and potential challenges of this first-in-the-world initiative, and discusses some of the other innovative strategies the Wangzhou Internet Court has introduced.
It appears that in at least one court in the Republic of China, what many of us think of as elements of future judicial systems are already contributing to the resolution of disputes.
I would be interested to know your thoughts on this – or on any matter relating to the management of law firms. You can contact me either in the comments section below, or directly via email.