China has launched a “cyber court” to deal exclusively with internet-related disputes.
The Net Court allows citizens to submit civil complaints online and then watch the trial unfold through a livestream.
It handles cases about copyright, online defamation, e-commerce and more. The first case, heard on Friday, was a copyright dispute between a writer and a web firm.
“[The court will] offer regular people an efficient, low-cost solution to these new kinds of disputes that take place on the internet,” Du Qian, the cyber-court chief justice, told an official Chinese news agency.
“Not only will this make lawsuits as convenient as online shopping, but it will also give online shopping the same degree of judicial protection as consumption at brick-and-mortar stores.”
It’s no coincidence that the court is located in the same city – Hangzhou – as Amazon rival Alibaba and several other Chinese internet firms. In China’s civil procedure law, lawsuits must take place where the defendant is domiciled.
The court’s opening comes as the number of internet-related claims in China has soared with the rise of e-commerce. Chinese consumers spent $17.8bn (£13.9bn) during Alibaba’s biggest shopping day last year.