On May 25, 2022, the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China released the “Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court on Strengthening Blockchain Application in the Judicial Field” (hereinafter referred as “the Opinions”), which indicates the concrete actions of the people’s courts in thoroughly implementing the Xi Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law and General Secretary Xi Jinping’s valuable instructions on promoting the innovative development of the blockchain technology. By further facilitating the people’s courts to accelerate the digital transformation with the support of key technologies represented by blockchain and to achieve a higher level of digital justice, the Opinions will promote the in-depth integrated development of the rule of law and technology as well as the higher-quality intelligent rule of law.
The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has attached great importance to the application and development of blockchain technology. General Secretary Xi Jinping noted that the blockchain should serve as an essential breakthrough point in independently innovating core technologies and he called for speedy efforts in boosting the innovative development of blockchain technology and industry so as to actively promote the integrated development of blockchain, economy, and society. In recent years, the people’s courts have vigorously furthered the blockchain application in the judicial field by establishing judicial blockchain platforms with over 2.2 billion pieces of evidence stored on the judicial blockchain. The platforms have witnessed the constant improvement of application efficiency and standardization in evidence storage and solidifying, intelligent assistance, case file management, etc., and leveraged blockchain’s strengths in ensuring that electronic evidence and electronic service are stored safely, verified online, and tamper-proof and in other application scenarios.
In order to strengthen blockchain application in the judicial field and give full play to blockchain’s role in cementing judicial credibility, facilitating social governance, preventing and resolving risks, promoting high-quality development, etc., the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China has formulated and released the Opinions on the basis of comprehensive investigation, extensive consultation, and sufficient argumentation. 32 items included in seven parts of the Opinions clarify the overall requirements for blockchain application in the judicial field and requirements for building the blockchain platforms of the people’s courts, chart courses for four typical application scenarios where blockchain technology facilitates the enhancement of judicial credibility, judicial efficiency, judicial collaboration, and economic and social governance, and specify guarantee measures of blockchain application. The Opinions’ features fall into the following six aspects:
First, proposing to build a judicial blockchain alliance featuring interconnectivity and sharing. According to the Opinions, by 2025, a blockchain alliance featuring interconnectivity and sharing between the people’s courts and all social sectors will come into being with the capabilities for fundamental support for data verification, trusted operation, smart contract, interoperation collaboration, etc. to be dramatically improved. By then, the judicial blockchain interoperation alliance is to be integrated into the economic and social operation system, which will actively contribute to the improvement of the business environment, economic and social governance, risk prevention and resolution, and industrial innovation and development, back China to become a peaceful, digital and credit-based country under the rule of law, and foster a world-leading model of blockchain application in the judicial field with Chinese characteristics.
Second, clarifying requirements on building the blockchain platforms of the people’s courts. The Opinions make it clear that the people’s courts need to strengthen the top-level design of blockchain application, constantly advance capacity building for interoperation collaborative application, enhance technical capabilities of the judicial blockchain, build an Internet-based judicial blockchain verification platform, and establish and optimize a standard system. In addition, the Opinions specify that it is required to create an open and shared judicial blockchain platform among people’s courts nationwide, boost the development of the interoperation alliance of the judicial blockchain platform and that of all walks of life so as to constantly enhance synergy, and build a judicial blockchain verification platform on the Internet, which enables parties and other relevant subjects to verify the authenticity of mediation data, electronic evidence, litigation documents, and other judicial data.
Third, proposing to utilize data tamper-proof technology of blockchain to enhance judicial credibility. In the Opinions, it is required that judicial data of the people’s courts, including electronic case files, electronic archives, and judicial statistical reports, is expected to be stored on the blockchain. Moreover, it is necessary to store data and operations of enforcement cases on the blockchain, uniformly store litigation documents served by the people’s courts and receipts of service on the judicial blockchain platform so as to ensure the security of judicial data and compliance of operations. The Opinions also stipulate that it is necessary to perfect the evidence verification function of the blockchain platform, which enables parties and judges to verify the electronic evidence stored on the blockchain online, so as to contribute to setting sound standards and rules for blockchain-based storage and improve the efficiency and quality of electronic evidence identification.
Fourth, proposing to optimize business processes with blockchain application to constantly improve judicial efficiency. The Opinions outline five typical application scenarios where blockchain enables circulation and application of case-filing information, connected application between mediation and trial procedures, the connection between trial and enforcement procedures, enhancement of enforcement efficiency, and enables enforcement officers and police staff to handle cases more conveniently, making more automatic business processes and higher judicial efficiency possible. Moreover, the Opinions intend to set operational rules on automatically triggering the trial procedure or the enforcement procedure upon the failure to perform mediation agreements and launch the smart contract procedure, so as to cement the judicial authority of the mediation procedure and support diversified dispute resolution.
Fifth, proposing to leverage blockchain interconnectivity to enhance judicial collaboration. The Opinions advocate to realize interoperation collaborative application between the people’s courts and administrative organs, which enables online inquiry and verification of qualifications and credit reports of lawyers in litigation activities, with higher time efficiency; to realize interoperation collaborative application between the people’s courts and procuratorial, public security, judicial, administrative and other organs, so as to improve the efficiency of online case circulation and data mutual trust; to realize interoperation collaborative application between the people’s courts and organs involved in administrative law enforcement, immovable property registration, financial securities and insurance, or organs cooperatively imposing credit-based punishment, etc. and develop a model of automatically carrying out investigation and control in enforcement and imposing credit-based punishment, so as to improve the working efficiency of collaborative enforcement.
Sixth, proposing to exploit the mutual trustworthiness of the blockchain alliance to facilitate economic and social governance. The Opinions suggest that an interoperation collaborative mechanism with blockchain platforms for intellectual property, market regulation, property registration, transactions, data ownership, online data trading, financial institutions, relevant government departments, etc. should be built so as to support intellectual property protection, business environment improvement, data development and utilization, circulation and application of financial information, bankruptcy and restructuring of enterprises, construction of the credit system, etc.