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Monographic Studies【Font:Small Big

A New Paradigm for a Supreme Judicial Organization in Pre-1949 History

Author:   Nie Xin    Update Time:2015年06月02日

The Judicial Yuan, a model of supreme judicial organization peculiar to China’s recent history, was the outcome of several decades of evolution from the legal reforms of the late Qing Dynasty to the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC) in 1947. The Da Li Yuan (the supreme court) was very independent in judicial administration from the outset. Its powers were inherited and expanded by the Judicial Yuan. Whether the supreme power to adjudicate and the power of judicial administration should be united was a matter of repeated debate when the Constitution of the ROC was being formulated. However, as in practice the President of the Judicial Yuan was never directly involved in any trial, these two functions were never truly united. The Judicial Yuan also kept the Da Li Yuan’s power to provide a unified interpretation of laws and directives and expanded its powers of standardization and control to constitutional interpretation. In the early Republican period, the Da Li Yuan was separated from the Ping Zheng Yuan or administrative court (the Su Zheng Ting, or bureau of the ombudsman), which later developed into the Supreme Court on civil and criminal cases, Administrative Court and Commission on the Disciplinary Sanctions of Functionaries within the Judicial Yuan. It is safe to conclude that the Judicial Yuan was fairly well-developed in institutional terms even before the promulgation of the Constitution of the ROC; even the Constitution itself couldn’t start afresh and change the existing judicial system. However, if the Judicial Yuan had some valuable elements in terms of institutional design, judicial practice was hopelessly corrupted during the Nanjing period of Republic rule.



Institute of Modern History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

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