This research is funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Research Grant and the UC Pacific Rim Research Grant. Xin He also wishes to acknowledge the financial support from a GRF grant from the Hong Kong government. Special thanks go to the Chinese judges who helped arrange our fieldwork investigations and those who kindly agreed to be interviewed. We are also grateful for the comments of Professor Nancy Reichman and two anonymous reviewers of Law & Policy.
Inquisitorial Adjudication and Institutional Constraints in Chinese Civil Justice
Version of Record online: 11 AUG 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Law & Policy © 2013 The University of Denver/Colorado Seminary
Law & Policy
Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 290–318, October 2013
How to Cite
He, X. and Ng, K. H. (2013), Inquisitorial Adjudication and Institutional Constraints in Chinese Civil Justice. Law & Policy, 35: 290–318. doi: 10.1111/lapo.12011
- Issue online: 3 SEP 2013
- Version of Record online: 11 AUG 2013
- Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Research Grant
- UC Pacific Rim Research Grant
- Hong Kong government
Based on participatory observations of trials and extensive interviews with judges, this article examines the operation patterns of the civil justice process in China and explores the underlying reasons behind. It finds that, despite the reform efforts placing more responsibility on the litigants, the Chinese civil proceeding remains largely inquisitorial. The decline of out-court investigation is evident, yet judges rely on a limited form of cross-examination aimed to obtain oral testimony that can be used to justify a decision. This kind of judge-initiated questioning becomes an inexpensive substitute for the previously labor-intensive court investigation. The article further argues that the judges do not adjudicate based on whatever evidence presented by the litigation parties, a change mainly attributed to the institutional constraints to which the judges are subject. They respond to the incentives by handling cases efficiently with the minimum possibility of reversal and complaint. The article concludes by offering theoretical implications on the study of comparative legal process more generally.