The world around us is evolving and modern technologies are the main driver of change, with these changes even reaching the judiciary. More and more countries are now taking advantage of the innovative solutions available by successfully transforming their administration.
China wants to strengthen its citizens’ sense of justice: are online courts a good example
Imagine that in cases of widespread online piracy and e-commerce, the entire litigation process, from filing of a lawsuit through service of pleadings and mediation up to exchange of evidence, pre-trial preparation, trial and judgment, all take place online.
This is not an fanciful idea dreamed up by lawyers – it comes from a translated article of the first Decision of the Supreme People’s Court of China dated 3 September 2018, which deals with several aspects of the judicial process in online courts.
In August 2017, the world’s first online court was set up in Hangzhou, China. Two more were set up a year later in Beijing and Guangzhou. The above Decision was to regulate the activities of online courts in detail.
What kind of cases do online courts deal with? These are primarily disputes:
- Arising from the signing or execution of online shopping agreements via an e-commerce platform
- Concerning financial loan agreements (Polish: umowy pożyczek finansowych) and small credit agreements (Polish: małe umowy kredytowe) signed and executed online
- Resulting from the publication or distribution of copyright or related rights to works on the Internet
- Arising from infringement of personal interests and the interests of others, such as personal and property rights
This was only the beginning.
In practice, China has undertaken a comprehensive modernisation of technological processes in both traditional and online courts.
The revolution is called the ‘smart courthouse’ (jianshe zhihui fayuan, 建设智慧法院), and its aim is to strengthen Chinese citizens’ sense of justice.
Is Poland keeping up with China in the technological development of the judiciary
In this context, it is worth noting the Act of 7 July 2023 (amending the Civil Procedure Code, the Common Court System Law, the Criminal Procedure Code and certain other acts), which introduced the new wording of Article 151 §2 of the Civil Procedure Code.
Under the new legislation, presiding judges may order a remote public hearing, using appropriate technology. Such changes contribute to technological developments in court proceedings.
The introduction of e-Service could be another manifestation of the technological revolution.
This is an indirect but positive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic law, in particular the part concerning the service of pleadings via an information portal.
Once the e-mail address had become an indispensable part of any pleading, the lawmakers decided to go one step further and introduce e-Service. This met with the approval of the self-governing bodies of advocates and attorneys at law, who are already demanding two-way electronic communication. Unfortunately, the mandatory e-Service for courts, tribunals or public prosecutors will not be fully implemented until 1 October 2029.
These are only examples of the changes introduced by the Polish lawmakers.
Although we are still a long way from the Chinese judicial system, applying the Chinese reform to the Polish reality could bring a number of benefits, including:
- Improved efficiency of proceedings
- Easier archiving
- Control over the flow of correspondence
- Easier monitoring of deadlines
- Improved access to justice
- Automate selected activities
We already have examples of good practice – all we need is the courage to implement them. Sooner or later, we’ll be forced to.
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