All rise: ‘Smart court’ is now in session

Guangzhou has taken the lead in reform and advancement of the country’s legal system, establishing the world’s first “smart court”.

According to a report in Nanfang Daily, the first national-level Intelligent Court Laboratory has been built in Guangzhou, in which big data, blockchain, and many other technologies are being used to change the way legal proceedings are conducted.

It is not so much a court as an intelligence-distribution center, and it was switched on inside the People’s High Court of Guangdong yesterday. Covering an area of 440 sqm, the lab is unspoiled by human hands, and covers six experimental functional areas: litigation service, case handling, online trial, “smart” execution (of judgments, not people), blockchain research and development, and big data management.

At present, the lab is equipped with cloud-based servers providing the computing power of more than 3,000 virtual machines and around 5PB of storage space. It has multiple types of displays, an advanced sound amplification system, as well as a state-of-the-art security system. It runs on a special network built by China Unicom and China Mobile, is connected to the Internet and is designed for 5G wireless signals.

The Nanfang reporter witnessed demos of the system in action, coming away impressed. It covered simulations of a mediation process before an appeal was lodged online, filing, and exchange of evidence. That was cool enough. But then the reporter got to witness a live court session, which was followed by judgment and review, in which extensive use was made of mobile devices connecting the court’s participants – who were not standing in the same room.

Needless to say, the demo’s handlers explained how they could do that. The platform connects with data from the Public Security Bureau in real time, which allows for verification of participants’ identities. Not only that, but it is plugged into the provincial government’s Finance Bureau, which allows for instant payments and settlements as ordered by the judges, as well as fact-checking of records.

One case involved the Guangzhou Maritime Court, in which proceedings were held simultaneously between the court’s headquarters and four other dispatched courts. It involved cross-domain filing, cross-domain exchange of evidence materials and, ultimately, a cross-domain synchronous trial.

Blockchain technology is apparently going to play an important role in the new court system. New enforcement standards will be particularly important in the field of copyright protection, in which blockchain technology can verify the identity and evidence of creators. Moreover, blockchain technology can also speed up processing of similar types of claims, greatly improving the productivity of the court.

Someone has obviously been spending some time building this system. The Nanfang reporters was told that it has already stored the records of more than one billion lawsuits handled by provincial courts since 1998.

Read more on Nanfang Daily (in Chinese).

Tell us what you think