Kwai Hang Ng is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of California, San Diego. His academic interests include legal discourse, China's legal system, postcolonial common laws, and social theory.
Internal Contradictions of Judicial Mediation in China
Version of Record online: 3 JUL 2013
© 2013 American Bar Foundation
Law & Social Inquiry
Volume 39, Issue 2, pages 285–312, Spring 2014
How to Cite
Ng, K. H. and He, X. (2014), Internal Contradictions of Judicial Mediation in China. Law & Social Inquiry, 39: 285–312. doi: 10.1111/lsi.12034
This research is funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Research Grant and the UC Pacific Rim Research Grant. Xin He also acknowledges 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 the anonymous reviewers of Law & Social Inquiry.
- Issue online: 7 MAY 2014
- Version of Record online: 3 JUL 2013
- Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Research Grant
- UC Pacific Rim Research Grant
- Hong Kong government
Judicial mediation in China represents an extreme case of integration between adjudication and mediation. Based on ethnographic work and extensive interviews, this article studies how judicial mediation actually works in China. It finds that the incorporation of mediation as part of the official trial process creates a set of internal contradictions. In addition to the role conflict inherent in a judge's acting also as a mediator, adjudication and mediation stages are organized by different principles. When the rather rigid format of adjudication is carried over to in-trial mediation, it curtails the flexible, nonlegalistic approach that mediation is meant to promote. Challenged authority, an uncontrolled process, narrowed issues, and weakened norms all make a settled outcome difficult to achieve. In comparison with judicial mediation in other jurisdictions, this case study from China has important theoretical implications for understanding the limits of informal justice.