Beijing Internet Court is one of the three Internet courts in China. It was established in September 2018. So, how does it do in its first year?
In September 2019, Beijing Internet Court issued the ‘White Paper on the Trial of Beijing Internet Court’ (北京互联网法院审判白皮书) (Sep. 2018 - Sep. 2019). From this White Paper, we can learn something about its operation.
It is noteworthy that Beijing Internet Court has jurisdiction over all Internet-related cases that should be heard by grass-roots courts in Beijing. Therefore, the data from the White Paper can also reflect the situation of Internet-related disputes in Beijing.
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1. Number of cases in Beijing Internet Court
During the first year, Beijing Internet Court had accepted 34,263 cases and had closed 25,333 of them.
2. Types of cases in Beijing Internet Court
In cases accepted by Beijing Internet Court:
- Copyright cases accounted for 77.7% (26,607 cases);
- Online shopping contract disputes accounted for 12.3% (4,243 cases);
- Internet tort liability disputes accounted for 7% (2,391 cases);
- Online service contract disputes accounted for 1.1% (387 cases);
- Online shopping product quality disputes accounted for 0.5% (173 cases);
- Online financial contract disputes accounted for 0.4% (155 cases).
According to the data above, copyright and online shopping are the two most important areas of Internet-related disputes.
3. Types of litigants in Beijing Internet Court
Among all the litigants in those cases, natural persons accounted for 79.2% and legal persons accounted for 19.7%.
In 22.3% of the cases, both parties located in Beijing, while in 77.7% of the cases, at least one of the parties was not in Beijing. In these cases, the litigants were supposed to appear in the courts in Beijing for case trial, but now they need not do so, and can participate in the process through the Internet.
This means that Beijing Internet Court has brought great convenience to litigants in at least 77% of the cases. According to the statistics of Beijing Internet Court, litigants’ travel mileage was thus reduced by 29.87 million kilometers and the carbon emissions were reduced by 161 tons. On average, each litigant saved 800 CNY in case expenditure and 16 hours in transit.
4. Efficiency of Beijing Internet Court
95.2% of cases were heard under the summary procedure. The average trial length of each case was 37 minutes, and the average trial period of each case was 40 days. By contrast, the average trial period of the expedited trial judge of Beijing Intellectual Property Court is 87.51 days. 
In addition, in 98.3% of cases, the litigants chose not to appeal; in 98% of cases, the litigants fulfilled the judgment by themselves without court enforcement.
5. Mediation by Beijing Internet Court
Beijing Internet Court has introduced mediation (see CJO posts on court-connected mediation) and adopted online mediation technology.
This year, the number of mediation cases was 29,728, and all mediation was conducted online. The success rate of mediation was 23.9%.
Beijing has the largest number of Internet companies (and Internet giants) in China. There is fierce market competition among these Internet companies, and thus a large number of lawsuits will occur. Through mediation, Beijing Internet Court has solved disputes among Internet enterprises (such as Sina and Qihoo 360) in a mass-production manner.
6. 24/7 Service
All the cases filed by the litigants with Beijing Internet Court are through the Internet, on which the Court relies to provide a 24/7 service. As currently envisaged, a quarter of the cases are conducted during non-working time. In this respect, the 24/7 service has proved to be a practical need for the litigants.
7. Trial Procedure All Online
100% of the cases are filed online. 99.1% of the cases are tried online. 95.6% of the instruments are served electronically.
92.2% of the cases are closed online from beginning to end.
All cases subject to appeal are transferred to the Court of Appeal electronically.
In terms of the trial procedure online, the number of visits to the website of Beijing Internet Court exceeded 45 million, with an average of 12,689 visits per day. There are 20,465 registered users.
8. Automatic Instrument Generation
Beijing Internet Court has developed an intelligent judgment generation system for 5 types of cases.
The system has automatically generated 127,687 instruments, of which:
The system has automatically generated 127,687 instruments. 4597 of them are judgments, rulings, and settlements, with 50.3% of their content being automatically generated, while the rest are manually prepared by judges. 166706 of them are standard instruments, such as summons and notice of appearance, which are 100% automatically generated.
9. Number of Staff in Beijing Internet Court
There are 35 judges, 105 law assistants and clerks, 19 administrative staff and 24 judicial police in Beijing Internet Court.
The average age of judges is 40 years old, with case hearing experience of more than 10 years.
10. Evidence Rules of Beijing Internet Court
Almost all the evidence involved in the cases accepted by Beijing Internet Court is electronic data. Therefore, Beijing Internet Court is exploring the use of electronic evidence.
Beijing Internet Court has developed a blockchain system “Balance Chain” (天平链) for electronic evidence preservation to ensure its authenticity and probative force. At present, the system has stored 6.96 million entries of electronic evidence, and the courts have admitted the evidence stored by the system in 14 cases.
11. Opening to the public
There are more than 20 million visits to the case trial of Beijing Internet Court through various online platforms.
Some of the most-concerned cases heard by Beijing Internet Court have attracted hundreds of millions of participants on China’s mainstream social media Weibo (similar to Twitter).
Beijing Internet Court received 554 interviews and 10,120 visits, of which 35 interviews and 542 visits were foreign-related. Foreign visitors are from the fields of the legal profession, technology, culture and education, as well as political figures such as the President of the International Court of Justice in Hague, the President of the International Arbitration Commission, the Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the President of the Supreme Court of Panama.
Cover Photo by CXXioHi(https://unsplash.com/@cxxiohi) on Unsplash
Contributors: Guodong Du 杜国栋