China’s first “cyber court” was launched on Friday to settle online disputes, as the legal system attempts to keep up with the explosion of mobile payment and e-commerce.
Residents of the eastern city of Hangzhou — home to e-commerce giant Alibaba — can now register their internet-related civil complaints online and wait to log onto to their trial via videochat.
The cyber 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 the official Supreme People’s Court 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.”
The court will handle cases such as online trade disputes, copyright lawsuits and product liability claims for online purchases.
China is home to the world’s largest number of internet users — 731 million at the end of last year — and e-commerce is a vital part of the government’s efforts to turn China into a consumer demand-driven economy.
Consumers spent $17.8 billion during Alibaba’s biggest online shopping promotion on November 11 last year, more than twice the five-day desktop sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in the US last year.