Flexibly Applying Rules of Electronic Evidence in International Trade Dispute Promoting the Use of Information Technology in the “Belt and Road” Initiative —— a case of Indonesia D Company v Shenzhen C Company, etc. in a sales contract dispute
Indonesian D Company and C (Hong Kong) Company established a sales contract relationship at the end of 2012. C (Hong Kong) Company provided computers to Indonesian D Company. D Company paid at two intervals but C (Hong Kong) Company failed to supply the goods as scheduled after receiving the payment. Then D Company proposed to cancel the sales contract and requested a refund of the payment. Until September 2014, the two parties still failed to reach an agreement after negotiation. D Company believed that Shenzhen C Company and C (Hong Kong) Company were affiliated companies whose corporate personality were confused and they should share the responsibility jointly. Therefore, it bought the case to the Qianhai Court. In the litigation, Indonesian D company submitted an email as evidence.
The court held that recognizing the legal status of electronic data evidence was a requirement of socio-economic development. As a form of electronic data, the printout of e-mail in this case without any notarization by the notary office, had been verified with the testimony of the witness and the evidence provided by Indonesian company D, such as emails, bank application forms, and confirmation letters, forming a full chain of evidence and constituting the evidence authentication system of factual authenticity and integrity. It can be confirmed that there was a relationship involving the purchase of goods between Indonesian D Company and C (Hong Kong) Company, and both parties should perform their obligations as agreed upon. Shenzhen C Company, as the sole shareholder of C (Hong Kong) Company, couldn’t prove that the property of C (Hong Kong) Company was independent of its own property and should be jointly and severally liable for the debts of C (Hong Kong) Company mentioned above. The court judged and confirmed the cancellation of the sales contract. Shenzhen C Company and C (Hong Kong) Company returned the payment to Indonesia D Company.
With the further development of the “Belt and Road” initiative, international trade activities between China and countries along the “Belt and Road” are becoming more and more frequent, and the economic disputes between international regions involve more issues of electronic evidence. Due to the physical characteristics of electronic data such as high-tech, invisibility, diversity, openness, and deformability, it is difficult for electronic evidence to be independently used as the basis for determining the facts of a case. The degree of electronic evidence as proof of the facts of the case derives from notarization and expert opinions and also comes from a reliable authentication system. In this case, through the witness testimony and the evidence chain formed by other evidence, the evidence qualification and effectiveness of electronic evidence is determined, the facts of the case are accurately identified, and international trade through the Internet is encouraged and supported. At the same time, the court identifies the corporate personality of domestic companies and overseas companies to be confused according to the law, and effectively protects the legitimate rights and interests of commercial entities in and outside the region and smooth conduct of active services and the construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative.