The Supreme People’s Court of China has issued new rules which state that blockchain records must be considered as legal evidence in the court. Local publication South China Morning Post reports that China’s Internet courts will have to consider digital data as if it is verified using methods like timestamps, the blockchain, and digital signatures.
The new rules are brought into effect immediately after the court announced them last Friday. The official announcement by the Supreme People’s Court stated:
“Internet courts shall recognize digital data that are submitted as evidence if relevant parties collected and stored these data via blockchain with digital signatures, reliable timestamps and hash value verification or via a digital deposition platform, and can prove the authenticity of such technology used.”
Three months back, China’s first internet court in Hangzhou, a city in Zhejiang Province, issued a ruling that any evidence authenticated using the blockchain technology will be legally binding. Zhang Yanlai, a patent lawyer with Hangzhou-based Zhejiang Kending Law Office, said that although courts usually depend on third-party organizations to authenticate the evidence, blockchain provides a great alternative which is “secured, efficient, convenient and low in cost.”
The Chinese government and authorities are working extensively to push the use of blockchain technology across multiple business sectors. Even the local government of major cities like Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai has issued policies that encourage the blockchain development.
Recently, a second internet court has been opened in the capital city of Beijing. China also plans to open the third one in Guangzhou by the end of this month. All the case proceedings right from lawsuit filing to the announcement of the verdict will be made available online. Litigants can also attend the hearings through online video streaming.
Chinese Courts Not The First to Use Blockchain Technology
China is not the first one to use blockchain records as admissible evidence in the courts. Two years back, the U.S State of Vermont issued a bill that allows digital records registered on a blockchain to be self-authenticating. Vermont’s conduct of trial rules stated:
“A digital record electronically registered in a blockchain shall be self-authenticating pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 902, if it is accompanied by a written declaration of a qualified person, made under oath, stating the qualification of the person to make the certification…”
Last month, the U.K government also announced running a blockchain trial which uses digital evidence stored on the distributed ledger. This trial was conducted as a part of the experiment to bring reforms while creating an audit trail in evidence management and a tamper-proof custody using the blockchain technology.
Currently, the pilot project is undertaken by Tribunals Service