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Evidence Authenticated with Blockchain Now Binding in Legal Disputes – China’s Supreme Court

China’s supreme court rules blockchain can now legally be used to verify evidence in the East Asian country. In a statement made to the media on Friday, the apex court directed internet courts to “recognize digital data that are submitted as evidence if relevant parties collected and stored these data via blockchain with digital signatures, reliable timestamps, and has value verification or via a digital deposition platform, and can prove the authenticity of such technology used.”

The new rules became necessary after several inquiries were raised following a ruling by the internet court that blockchain-based evidence was allowed in court. The internet court had ruled in a copyright infringement case in June that evidence authenticated with blockchain was admissible.

The internet court, which is China’s first seat of judgment explicitly tasked with the responsibility of settling internet-related disputes, was set up in Hangzhou, the capital of the Zhejiang province where the vast majority of tech firms are located.

The court is responsible for hearing different types of civil and administrative cases including those involving e-commerce disputes, intellectual property rights, and other web-related cases assigned by higher courts. Litigants can handle lawsuits entirely online, including filing and court hearing without having to go to the court in person.

The timing of the establishment of the district-level court couldn’t be better as it came at a period when the Chinese society is still wrestling with the internet and the opportunities it presents, with several cases related to e-commerce handled each year.

The Supreme People’s Court stated that the new regulation was approved after its judicial committee came to a consensus.

Meanwhile, China is also preparing to set up two new internet courts in the nation’s capital Beijing and the southern city of Guangzhou. The gradual expansion of these specialized courts offers many benefits for both the judiciary and individual participants.

However, the courts still face challenges such as how to facilitate litigants who do not understand how the internet works. Overall, while it remains to be seen how things will go from here, using blockchain to authenticate evidence in legal disputes will make the hearing process far more transparent.

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