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The online rules of procedure (Excerpts)

*The original text is Chinese and has been translated into English for reference only. If there is any inconsistency or ambiguity between the Chinese version and the English version, the Chinese version shall prevail.

On June 17, the Supreme People’s court held a press conference and issued the online rules of procedure of the people’s Court (hereinafter referred to as the rules) The rules, the first judicial interpretation issued by the Supreme People’s court to guide the national court to carry out online litigation, will come into effect on August 1, 2021.

The rules for the first time constructed an online litigation rule system covering all trial fields and the whole process of litigation. It comprehensively summarized and reflected the achievements of online litigation field exploration of people’s courts in recent years, positively responded to the new judicial needs of the people in the Internet era, and ensured the litigants’ rights and interests in the legal proceedings, enhanced the convenience of the people’s litigation and improved the efficiency of trial quality, It is of great significance to promote the epoch-making reform of judicial trial mode.

The rules are 39 articles, which cover the legal effect, basic principles, scope of application and applicable conditions of online litigation, as well as online procedure rules in the main litigation links from filing of lawsuits to the execution of judgments, which provides clear procedural guidance for all parties to participate in online litigation. The rules have the following six aspects of features and highlights in the content.

First, the basic principles of online litigation have been established for the first time. The rules first proposed that online litigation should adhere to five basic principles of “fairness and efficiency”, “legal voluntary”, “right protection”, “convenience for the people”, “security and reliability”, and clarify the value orientation and basic characteristics of online litigation. According to the basic principles, the rules clearly define the scope of the online litigation, including various civil, administrative, special procedures and enforcement cases, and for the criminal quick decision procedure and commutation parole cases, online litigation can also be applied in some links. Meanwhile, the rules require that the application of online litigation is based on the basic conditions of the consent of the parties, the case is suitable for online handling, and the subject of the lawsuit has the corresponding technical ability, fully respecting the right of the parties to choose the trial mode, and ensuring the quality and efficiency of the case trial.

Second, the effectiveness and audit rules of electronic materials are clarified. The rules insist on the premise of safety and reliability, and clarify the effectiveness of electronic materials “deemed as original”. For electronic materials approved by the people’s court, they can be directly used in the lawsuit without having to submit the original, effectively enriching the way of litigant materials, which helps to improve the convenience of litigation and reduce the cost of litigation. The rules, aiming at the authenticity review and content authenticity of electronic materials, respectively define different audit rules and requirements, promote prevention and resolution of litigation risks and ensure the legal and orderly online litigation.

Third, the validity scope and review criteria of blockchain certificates are determined. According to the characteristics of blockchain technology, the rules confirm that the block chain storage data has the effect of presumption that the data is not tampered after the chain is up, and respectively define the rules for the review and confirmation of the data authenticity after the chain up and the authenticity of the data before the chain up, and provide the rule guidance for the authenticity identification of the block chain storage data for the first time, This will help the parties to actively use blockchain technology to solve the dilemma of “hard to store and authenticate” electronic data, improve the efficiency of evidence identification of people’s court, and promote the improvement of new evidence rules system in the Internet era.

Fourth, the system has established the online trial standard. The rules provide the rules of online trial comprehensively and systematically, define the applicable conditions, scope and mode of online trial, establish the online and offline trial conversion mechanism, and make clear requirements on online trial environment, online trial discipline, online trial disclosure, online witness appearance, etc., so as to ensure the legitimacy, standardization and authority of online trial.

Fifth, the effectiveness of the asynchronous hearing mechanism has been confirmed. In order to further enhance the convenience of litigation, the rules allow parties to conduct online mediation, evidence exchange, and investigation and inquiry activities in an asynchronous manner within a certain period of time. Meanwhile, the rules make special provisions for asynchronous trial, strictly limit the scope, conditions and methods of application, and regard it as a special form of court hearing under specific conditions, rather than the normal of online trial.

Sixth, the rules of electronic delivery have been refined and perfected. The rules fully stipulate the applicable conditions, content scope, means and effective standards of electronic service, establish the “implied consent rules”, extend the form of “consent” to the prior agreement, the behavior in the event and the recognition after the event, and promote the application of electronic service. The rules clearly define two effective standards of electronic service, namely “arrival and effectiveness” and “knowing effective”, which effectively take into account the accuracy and efficiency of service, and promote the trial to speed up and increase efficiency.

In addition, the rules also make specific and clear provisions on identity authentication, online mediation, online filing, online response, electronic records, electronic files, online implementation and online trial of criminal cases.

The online rules of procedure of the people’s court were adopted by the judicial committee of the Supreme People’s court, is hereby promulgated and shall come into effect as of August 1, 2021.