Chinese court in Guangdong allows the use of WeChat and other social media records

In July 2018, the People’s Republic of China Nansha Court of Guangdong Free Trade Zone in Guangdong province issued the Internet Electronic Data Evidence Proof and Certification Procedures. The procedures allow records from social media communication to be submitted to the Nansha Court without notarisation.

The procedures fall in accordance with the Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), PRC Law of Electronic Signatures, Supreme People’s Court Interpretation of the Civil Procedure Law of PRC and Several Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on Evidence in Civil Proceedings.

Evidence related to social media communication, including WeChat, QQ and Alipay chat records, emails and other electronic communication, which can demonstrate tangible context and be retrieved for review at any time, may be submitted to the Nansha Court. What’s more, forms of social media communication are included in the scope of evidence, including voice-chat, pictures, videos and payments on social media communication, although each form shall meet specific conditions provisioned, such as complete records and back storage of videos, an inscription of the voice message and other such recorded items. In such cases, social media communication is accepted as evidence in before the court, where the plaintiff is compelled to produce the original electronic carrier of the social media communication, such as mobile phone or other electronic devices. Equally, the plaintiff is required to log into his/her account before the court and demonstrate the authenticity of the social media account user as well as the fixed personal detail linked to the account, such as the user’s mobile number.

It is reported that the Nansha Court will release the procedures as a trial practise to resolve the Internet electronic data evidence certification, which to date has typically required notarisation. What’s more, the court will also provide a list of guidelines for filing a case and delivering the respondent materials. The Nansha Court is the first in China to allow social media communication to be submitted as evidence without notarisation, which reflects a direction in line with the digitalised world.

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