Beijing court opens WeChat account for litigants to chat with judges

BEIJING • A court in Beijing has opened a WeChat account to allow litigants to chat with judges, get status updates on their cases and report those who break court orders.

The Haidian District People's Court started the service early this month to provide convenience and improve work efficiency. It is the first court in Beijing to use WeChat, a messaging app, to provide legal services. The move is a fresh step for Chinese judicial authorities who are pushing the courts to become more tech-friendly.

Mr Mao Jinke, director of the court's enforcement office, said: "Litigants and lawyers can connect with our platform using their mobile phones... When they want to know what cases will be heard or what part of the legal procedure the cases are in, they can just open WeChat."

Judges are required to reply within 24 hours to questions from litigants or from people who report those who fail to comply with court orders. Responses will be sent to litigants via WeChat as soon as possible, Mr Mao said.

He added that messages left by litigants on the platform will be reviewed first as judges should not be disturbed by scams or malicious complaints. "If someone is found always sending spam to us, the platform will blacklist the person," Mr Mao said.

Before the move, courts nationwide have taken various measures to improve work efficiency on behalf of litigants. For example, litigants in Shanghai's Pudong New Area can initiate a lawsuit in only 15 minutes by scanning a QR code, according to a work report delivered by Mr Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, in March.

In Gansu province, courts have been set up to hear cases via live video. So far, 423 courts in the western province can hear cases with remote litigants and verdicts can be searched online and downloaded, the province's official website reported.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Beijing court opens WeChat account for litigants to chat with judges'. Print Edition | Subscribe