A brick-and-mortar courtroom for digital disputes . . .
China’s newly-formed international e-commerce court, the Hangzhou Internet Court, located in Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang province, will manage disputes over online deals, negotiations, and contracts. And, in case you were wondering, court proceedings will be live-streamed. The first case at the new court was heard on July 15 and involved a Singaporean national suing a Chinese e-commerce platform for an alleged contract violation. The plaintiff has accused the e-commerce platform of false advertising and is demanding a refund.
A novel court with huge precedent-setting potential . . .
Hangzhou is China’s e-commerce hub and serves as the headquarters for Alibaba, the company behind Taobao, an online marketplace with hundreds of thousands of vendors. According to the president of the Hangzhou Internet Court, “(t)he newly-established tribunal will promote the advantage and influence of Internet-based justice, and equally protect the legal interests of all kinds of market entities from different countries and regions.” In 2019, China was the largest e-commerce market in the world, with sales of C$1 trillion. By 2023, retail e-commerce sales in the Asia Pacific are projected to be larger than e-commerce sales in the rest of the world combined.
Cracking China’s e-commerce market . . .
All of these startling growth numbers point to one thing: China is increasingly central to the global e-commerce market. The decisions of this newly-formed court will not only affect Chinese companies and consumers but also have implications for businesses and consumers abroad – including Canada’s. China’s opening of the e-commerce court, combined with its market influence, positions it to play an even more critical role in shaping the rules and practice of this growing sector in the coming years.
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