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Judges can now hold hearings in Beijing’s tiny ‘virtual court cabins’

Judges can now hold hearings in Beijing’s tiny ‘virtual court cabins’
These don’t look like they’re made for whole-day hearings. (Picture: Beijing Internet Court)

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic drove courts to move online, China’s internet courts were already conducting hearings via video calls. But with lockdowns preventing judges from going back to their offices, Beijing’s internet court developed a “virtual court system” that allows them to access case information and handle daily cases from home.

But that’s not all. With business largely having returned to normal in China now, Beijing’s internet court has also set up what it calls “virtual court cabins.” These are 3-square-meter (32-square-feet) rooms equipped with just a computer and a chair. They’re designed for judges to conduct simple hearings without the need to sit in an actual courtroom. Just like virtual backgrounds in Zoom, the virtual court system puts up the national emblem as a backdrop for the judges.

China’s internet courts are dedicated to disputes originating online. Filings are accepted electronically and evidence can be submitted online. First established in 2017, they were started to deal with the increasing number of internet-related court cases in the country.

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