The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court deployed a new blockchain system in a lending dispute case, which allowed the parties to submit evidence and conduct cross-examination online in a legal first for the region.
Each side can post its evidence online using the “blockchain electronic cross-examination system.” The opposing party can cross-examine the submitted evidence by asking questions and delivering responses under the judge’s supervision. The technology stores all of the evidence, as well as the questions and statements from the cross-examination, on the blockchain.
The blockchain cross-examination technique was used in this case because travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak would have delayed the trial if evidence assessment and cross-examination had to be done in person. The judge also determined that submitting evidence via mail would take too long.
In this case, the plaintiff sued the defendant for an unpaid loan principal of nearly 1.16 million yuan (around US$ 179,170) plus interest. Following the initial trial, a lower court ordered the defendant to return the plaintiff more than 700,000 yuan (about US$108,120) plus interest. The plaintiff was unhappy with the decision and filed an appeal with the Guangzhou Intermediate Court.
The use of blockchain-assisted evidence is already common in Chinese courts. The Supreme People’s Court of China passed a law in September 2018 recognizing blockchain technology as a valid technique of collecting, repairing, and tamper-proofing data. The Supreme People’s Court’s newest Regulation of Online Litigation, issued in August of this year, added new rules for establishing the legitimacy and legality of blockchain evidence.
The provinces of Jilin and Shandong, as well as the cities of Chengdu, Quanzhou, and Taiyuan, as well as three online courts in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou, have all started using blockchain to store evidence.