Legal and IP Management & legal News

Chinese internet court adopts blockchain smart contracts, processes 1.9 bn transactions

legal contracts

Yesterday, the Hangzhou local government announced that its blockchain judicial platform has adopted smart contracting. The platform, used by Hangzhou Internet Court, has also had over 1.98 billion transactions through its blockchain.

The court was set up in 2017 as a dedicated area for dealing with disputes over e-commerce, online contracts, and internet copyright infringements. Just over a year ago, it launched its blockchain platform for evidence, developed by Gongdao Network Technology with support from Ant. Since the evidence is mostly digital, it can be stored immutably on the system linked to an authenticated ID.

Smart contracts for legal proceedings

Now, the blockchain platform has started using smart contracts. During a press conference yesterday, the Hangzhou Internet Court outlined their use for automation in filing, trials, and outcomes.

Wang Jiangqiao, executive VP of the court, said: “In the case of contracts, after a traditional contract is signed, if one party defaults, the other party will spend a lot of time and effort to collect evidence and safeguard rights, and the rights protection cycle is long and costly. A smart contract is to compile the terms of a contract into computer code that runs automatically after the parties to the transaction sign.”

Filing smart contracts verify the code and process, so compliant evidence enters the court. The trial system automatically extracts the critical risk points of the case and generates the reference documents, including the final judgement. The outcome system then links relevant institutions, such as banks or landlords, and adds the convicted party to a blacklist.

Jiangqiao explained: “In the end, this technology promotes the re-engineering of the credit system. The judicial blockchain smart contract sets the ‘credit blacklist’ and the ‘credit whitelist’.”

“Once the party triggers the ‘red line’ set by the smart contract, it will be automatically included in the blacklist. Blacklist users will be restricted or prohibited from using related services provided by credit union members. Whitelist users can get lower signing thresholds and exclusive preferential prices,” he continued.

Automated case filing

Ant’s Li Zhijin, director of blockchain products, said: “For example, most of the smart contracts that can be realized in online shopping are complex shopping methods, such as renting, selling, and pre-sales.”

He outlined how the system is being used to file a case automatically. Participating online stores execute a smart contract when a buyer places an order. If they don’t complete their payment or the seller breaches the contract, data is automatically sent to a mediation agency and enters the court blockchain. If the mediation is unsuccessful, a litigation process begins at the Internet Court.