A Wechat-based "mobile court" presided over by a chatbot has handled 3m legal procedures since March

The Chinese Supreme People's Court has just released a report on a "mobile court" pilot program that's been running since March to manage procedures in civil legal disputes through the Wechat social media platform, through which litigants are prompted by an AI chatbot "judge" (with a judicial avatar) to state their cases; the evidence is entered into the blockchain.

The cases are actually adjudicated by a human judge, with the automated system used to manage all the procedures to gather evidence and testimony prior to the judgment.

A separate "cybercourt" program has been running in Hangzhou since 2017 to settle online trade disputes, copyright claims, and product liability claims.

The Chinese Supreme Court touts the system as a means of streamlining justice by automating routine processes, which allows judges to focus on adjudicating cases, ensuring that litigants get their disputes resolved in timely fashion.

The AFP article on the measure is incredibly confusing, calling the chatbot an AI and blending descriptions of several programs; I had to read it three times before I realized that this was primarily a document collection assistant to make it easier for judges to review evidence, and not an "AI" that was rendering judgments. Also, they accept at face value the seemingly entirely superfluous inclusion of blockchain technology, which appears to exist solely for purposes of buzzword-compliance.

The digitization push is partly to help courts keep up with a growing caseload created by mobile payments and e-commerce in China, which has the world's largest number of mobile internet users at around 850 million.

"(Concluding cases) at a faster speed is a kind of justice, because justice delayed is justice denied," Hangzhou Internet Court Vice President Ni Defeng said.

Ni added that the use of blockchain technology is particularly useful, helping to streamline and create clearer records of the legal process.

In brave new world of China's digital courts, judges are AI and verdicts come via chat app [AFP/Japan Times]

(via Interesting People)