Pudong New Area initiates digital court for business lawsuits involving foreign companies
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The Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has recently launched a “digital court” platform in a bid to optimize the legal environment of business. In the current phase, the first-ever e-court in China only deals with business litigation and intellectual property cases involving foreign companies doing business in China.

“In digital courts, the process of engaging in a lawsuit could be as easy as doing online shopping,” Cao Kerui, the chief judge of the Shanghai FTZ Court, told thepaper.cn, a Shanghai-based news portal.

The FTZ digital court was set up by the Pudong New Area People’s Court, which is part of a broader effort by courts at various levels in Shanghai to apply Internet technologies to judicial procedures.

It’s widely reported that in February, the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court had conducted the city’s first-ever online hearing, with attorneys on behalf of both sides joining a video trial from two different cities far from Shanghai.

“With the Shanghai Supreme Court working as a general coordinator, courts at various levels are enthusiastically exploring ways to use Internet technologies to streamline sundry legal procedures," Cao Hongxing, director of the Department of Information Management of Shanghai's supreme court told Jiefang Daily, the official daily newspaper of the Shanghai municipal government.

A few days ago, the FTZ court accepted a case filed by a company in Kunming, the capital city of southwest China’s Yunnan province. In the past, the company would need to assign some staff to file the case in Shanghai, but now, they just need to log on to the court’s web page and submit all the required documents there. Not only that, all the following proceedings could be finished online without consuming much time of the parties involved.

The city has been doubling its efforts to optimize the business environment with legal aspects especially prioritized. “Businesses involved in lawsuits naturally expect their cases to be processed as quickly as possible, which could greatly cut costs,” Shi Jian, a lawyer with the S&P Law Firm in Beijing, told Jiefang Daily.

In his estimation, digital courts would be more efficient and convenient, shortening processing time by 15 working days for most cases.

Currently, the digital court only deals with business cases involving foreign-invested companies with IPR-related lawsuits.

China has faced mounting pressure from the Trump administration to address what the US alleges “problematic IPR policies and practices” since the start of 301 investigation led by the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

China’s President Xi Jinping and several high-ranking Chinese officials vowed in multiple public occasions to ramp up efforts in cracking down on IPR violations.

Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister, cited an example at a press conference in early April to demonstrate that the country’s courts had already made progress in the field.

“(A senior executive of an) US global company told me its China operation filed 31 IPR-related lawsuits in China and won 28 of them,” Wang said, noting US companies won in 80 percent of the IPR-related cases they filed.   

 


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