A one-stop service for resolving international commercial disputes that opened on Wednesday is designed to meet the new demands of the online era and provide fast, convenient and low-cost legal services.
Litigants can access the platform by visiting the website of the China International Commercial Court via computer, or by using their mobile phones to access a mini-program on WeChat, an instant messaging tool that is popular in China.
Domestic and foreign litigants can choose how they want to solve a dispute, whether through mediation, arbitration or litigation, and the platform has both a Chinese and an English version.
The platform, which makes full use of technology-friendly smart courts, also offers other services, like legal searches and ascertaining foreign laws.
The decision to create the platform is an important move by the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, to implement policy from the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
The court said on Wednesday that it will continue strengthening the online system to improve its functions and more effectively meet the demands of litigants, offering an efficient, high-quality service for resolving international commercial disputes that enhances the judiciary's international competitiveness.
In June 2018, the top court opened its first specialized international commercial court in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and the second in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, and set up an expert committee to serve as its dispute resolution think tank after the central leadership approved a guideline on establishing the Belt and Road International Commercial Dispute Resolution Mechanism and Institutions.
The online platform serves the resolution mechanism by permitting litigants to search for required services. Five international commercial arbitration institutions and two international mediation centers are among the first group of participating institutions accessible through the platform, including the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission and the Shanghai Commercial Mediation Center.
In its annual work report released in March, the top court said it had intensified efforts to resolve international commercial disputes, with 55 legal professionals from 25 countries invited to serve as experts at its international commercial courts to ensure the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative.
China has not stopped trying to resolve international commercial litigation cases even though the COVID-19 pandemic created difficulties for litigation at home and abroad, as well as for trials involving foreign nationals.
To promote judicial development and protect livelihoods, the court also issued a guideline on handling commercial and maritime cases involving foreign nationals last year, the report added.