China: Online Courts Using Blockchain Technology, AI to Streamline Operations

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New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are increasingly being used in the law industry to make it more efficient and transparent, said Zhang Wen, president of Beijing Internet Court, at the China Intellectual Property Protection (CIPP) Forum 2019. Local media outlet Global Times reports April 26, 2019.

Blockchain Tailor-Made for Law Industry

The impact of new-age technologies such as AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain on different industries has proven to be rather disruptive to say the least.

While AI and IoT focus more on human-machine (H2M) and machine-machine (M2M) economies, blockchain is steadily reengineering the fundamentals of a host of industries, including law, from the ground up.

Speaking at a seminar during the CIPP Forum 2019, Wen said that blockchain technology’s use in making legal rulings has shown impressive results.

Wen told the Global Times:

“Of the 41 cases concluded so far, parties chose to settle out of court rather than litigate in 40 cases with compelling evidence from the blockchain. This fosters social credibility development in the country.”

Wen added that, to date, the Beijing Internet Court has used distributed ledger technology (DLT) in at least 58 cases to collect and provide evidence.

For the uninitiated, the concept of internet courts is relatively new in China with the first one established in September 2018. The Beijing Internet Court is just the second such online court in China.

The court is part of the nation’s efforts to address Internet-related issues via an online legal mechanism. Most notably, the disputes handled by internet courts are typically large in number and small in compensation. Due to their easy accessibility, online courts help the parties to incur less litigation costs. To date, the Beijing Internet Court has processed a total of 14,904 cases.

AI-Headed Court a Possibility

Wen stated that AI is also used to help law professionals in handling court cases. He said that AI was found to have greatly improved the efficiency and accuracy of legal rulings.

He noted:

“In the current use of AI as an assistant to make rulings, efficiency is prioritized over accuracy. A human judge is ultimately responsible for the fair ruling.”

With that said, Wen didn’t rule out the possibility of an AI-headed court of law in the future.

He concluded:

“But we are heading toward a future when we can see an AI judge sitting at the podium.”

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