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Law, Custom, and Social Norms: Civil Adjudications in Qing and Republican China

  • Xiaoqun Xu
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xxu@cnu.edu
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He wishes to thank the journal's two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on the earlier versions of the article.

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1. Bodde, Derk and Morris, Clarence, Law in Imperial China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973).

2. Bourgon, Jerome, “Uncivil Dialogue: Law and Custom Did Not Merge into Civil Law under the Qing,” Late Imperial China 23 (2002): 5090 .

3. Zelin, Madeleine, “The Rights of Tenants in Mid-Qing Sichuan: A Study of Land-Related Lawsuits in the Baxian Archives,” Journal of Asian Studies 45 (1986): 499527 ; Zelin, Madeleine, “Merchant Dispute Mediation in Twentieth Century Zigong, Sichuan,” in Civil Law in Qing and Republican China, ed. Bernhardt, Kathryn and Huang, Philip C.C. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), 249–88; and Zelin, Madeleine, Ocko, Jonathan, and Gardella, Robert, eds., Contract and Property in Early Modern China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).

4. Mark A. Allee, “Code, Culture, and Custom: Foundations of Civil Case Verdicts in a Nineteenth-Century County Court,” in Civil Law in Qing and Republican China, ed. Bernhardt and Huang, 122–41; Philip C.C. Huang, “Codified Law and Magisterial Adjudication in the Qing,” in Civil Law in Qing and Republican China, 142–86.

5. Huang, Philip C. C., Civil Justice in China: Representation and Practice in the Qing (Stanford University Press, 1996); Code, Custom, and Legal Practice: The Qing and the Republic Compared (Stanford University Press, 2002).

6. Buoye, Thomas M., Manslaughter, Markets, and Moral Economy: Violent Disputes over Property Rights in Eighteen-century China (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

7. Liang, Linxia, Delivering Justice in Qing China: Civil Trials in the Magistrate's Court (Oxford University Press, 2008).

8. Jinfan, Zhang, Qingdai Minfa Zonglun (A General Treatise on Civil Law in the Qing Era) (Beijing: zhongguo zhenga daxue chubanshe, 1998), 3840 .

9. Shiga Shuzo, “Zhongguo fawenhua de kaocha” (A Study of Chinese Legal Culture); “Qingdai susong zhidu zhi mingshi fayuan de gaikuo xing kaocha––qing, li, fa” (A Summary Study of the Sources of Civil Law in Qing Litigations––Human Relations, Reason, and Law); and “Qingdai susong zhidu zhi minshi fayuan zhi kaocha––zuowei fayuan de xiguan” (A Study of Sources of Civil Law in Qing Litigations––Custom as a Source of Law), in Ming Qing Shiqi De Minshi Shenpan Yu Minjian Qiyue (Civil Trials and Contracts in Society During the Ming and the Qing), ed. Yaxin, Wang and Zhiping, Liang (Beijing: Falu chubanshe, 1998), 118 , 19–53, 54–96.

10. Liang, Delivering Justice in Qing China, 243–47.

11. Bourgon, Jerome, “Uncivil Dialogue: Law and Custom Did Not Merge into Civil Law under the Qing,” Late Imperial China 23 (2002): 5090 .

12. Jonathan Ocko, “The Missing Metaphor: Applying Western Legal Scholarship tot he Study of Contract and Property in Early Modern China,” in Contract and Property in Early Modern China,192; and Madeleine Zelin, “Managing Multiple Ownership at the Zigong Salt Yard,” in Contract and Property in Early Modern China, 230–68.

13. Man un Kwan, “Custom, the Code, and Legal Practice: The Contracts of Changlu Salt Merchants in Late Imperial China,” in Contract and Property in Early Modern China, 269–97.

14. Linxia Liang, Delivering Justice in Qing China, 239–40.

15. One scholar adopted a similar approach to studying how Qing jurists differentiated various types of litigations that, in Western legal parlance, would range from “criminal” to “civil.” See Deng, Jianpeng, “Classifications of Litigation and Implications for Qing Judicial Practice,” in Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice and Transformation, 1530s to 1950s, ed. Chen, Li and Zelin, Madeleine (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 1746 .

16. Huang, “Codified Law and Magisterial Adjudication in the Qing,” 170–71; Shiga Shuzo, “Zhongguo fawenhua de kaocha” (A Study of Chinese Legal Culture); “Qingdai susong zhidu zhi mingshi fayuan de gaikuo xing kaocha––qing, li, fa” (A Summary Study of the Sources of Civil Law in Qing Litigations––Human Relations, Reason, and Law), 13–14.

17. Xu, Xiaoqun, Trial of Modernity: Judicial Reform in Early Twentieth-Century China, 1901–1937 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 6365 .

18. Although this article highlights the continuity between the Qing and the Republic in civil justice, recent scholarship points out the similar continuity in criminal justice as well. See, for example, Neighbors, Jennifer, “The Long Arm of the Qing Law? Qing Dynasty Homicide Rulings in Republican Courts,” Modern China 53 (2009): 337 ; and Daniel Asen, “Old Forensics in Practice: Investigating Suspicious Deaths and Administering Justice in Republican Beijing,” in Chinese Law, 321–41.

19. Daqing Fagui Daquan (A Complete Compilation of Laws and Regulations of the Great Qing) (Zhengxue she, 1909), 11:2.

20. Qingmo Choubei Lixian Dangan Shiliao (Archival Sources on the Preparation for Constitutional Government in the Late Qing) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979), 833–37.

21. Qingmo Choubei Lixian Dangan Shiliao, 911–13.

22. Guangdong Sifa Wuri Bao (Guangdong Judicial Fifth-Day Journal), 1912, No.1, “Public Documents Section,” 1. (In the first 5 months of 1912 the journal was published as Fifth-Day Journal before it became Weekly Journal.)

23. Daqing Fagui Daquan, 11:2–15.

24. Sheng, Zhang, Minguo Chuqi Minfa De Jindaihua (The Modernization of Civil Law in the Early Republic of China) (Beijing: Zhongguo zhengfa daxue chubanshe, 2002), 2324 .

25. Qicheng, Li, “Wanqing Difang Sifa Gaige Chengguo Zhi Huiji” (A collection of the late Qing judicial reform achievements), in Qingqi, Wang, ed. Gesheng Shenpanting Pandu (Trial Documents from Courts in Various Provinces) (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2007), 23 .

26. Jiangsu Sifa Huibao (Jiangsu Judicial Reports), 1912, No.1, “Records,” 1a–3b; “Court Decisions,” 9b–13a.

27. Guangdong Sifa Xingqibao (Guangdong Judicial Weekly), July 28, 1912, No. 21, 64–67.

28. Jiangsu Sifa Huibao (Jiangsu Judicial Reports), September 1912, No. 6 “Court Decisions,” 13b–17a. Because the provisions on civil matters in the Current Criminal Code of the Great Qing were the same as those in the Law and Sub-Statutes of the Great Qing, when a judge invoked the “Qing law” in general, it could mean either version.

29. Jiangsu Sifa Huibao (Jiangsu Judicial Reports), November, 1912, No.8 “Court Decisions,” 21b–25a.

30. Guangdong Sifa Xingqibao (Guangdong Judicial Weekly), July 28, 1912, No. 21, 58–62.

31. Ibid., June 30, 1912 No. 17, 95–98.

32. Jiangsu Sifa Huibao (Jiangsu Judicial Reports), September 1912, No.6, “Court Decisions,” 27a–31a.

33. Guangdong Sifa Xingqibao (Guangdong Judicial Weekly), August 25, 1912, No.25, 70–72.

34. Ibid., July 21, 1912, No.20, 53–58.

35. Ibid., 1912, No.2, “Public Documents,” 36–39.

36. Ibid., July 7, 1912, No.18, 59–62.

37. Linxia Liang, Delivering Justice in Qing China, 165–69.

38. Guangdong Sifa Xingqibao (Guangdong Judicial Weekly), June 30, 1912, No.17, 69–72.

39. Ibid., July 14, 1912, No.19, 19–21.

40. Actually, neither an unconditional sale nor a conditional sale of a real estate should affect its tenant under the Qing law and custom, but this was not a normal land sale transaction.

41. Guangdong Sifa Xingqibao (Guangdong Judicial Weekly), August 18, 1912, No. 24 62–64.

42. Jiangsu Sifa Huibao (Jiangsu Judicial Reports), June 1912, No. 3, “Court Decisions,” 1a–1b.

43. Ibid., April 1912, No. 1, “Decisions of Courts,” 9b–13a.

44. Ibid., June 1912, No. 3, “Decisions of Courts,” 18b–20a.

45. For comparison, under a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1914, a concubine (as opposed to a wife) surviving a family head did not have the right to appoint or annul an heir to his properties. See Bernhardt, Kathryn, Women and Property in China, 960–1949 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 178–83.

46. Jiangsu Sifa Huibao (Jiangsu Judicial Reports), November 1912, No. 8, 15a–17b.

47. Faling Zhoukan (Law and Ordinance Weekly), 1915, No.100, 2.

48. See Shen, Xie, Shijie, Chen, and Jichi, Ying, eds., Minxingshi Caipan Daquan (A Complete Compilation of Civil and Criminal Decisions) (Shanghai: Xinji shuju, 1937; new edition, Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2007), 49–52, 238–41.

49. Wei, Guo, ed. Minguo Daliyuan Jieshili Quanwen (A Complete Compilation of the Supreme Court Legal Interpretations) (1930; reprint, Beijing: falü chubanshe, 2014), 568–70.

50. Ibid., 658, 1174–75.

51. Ibid., 1324.

52. Ibid., 612–13

53. Ibid., 905.

54. Ibid., 991–92.

55. Ibid., 577; 851.

56. Ibid., 704.

57. Ibid., 1133, 1263–64.

58. Ibid., 1386.

59. Ibid., 1388–89.

60. Zhejiang Lüshi Gonghui Baogaolu (Reports of the Zhejiang Bar Association), 1929, No.111, 1211–12.

61. Xu, Trial of Modernity, 39–40, 98–99.

62. Zhonghua Minguo Xianxing Fagui Daquan (A Complete Compilation of Current Laws and Regulations of the Republic of China) (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1934), Section Chou, 15.

63. Ibid., 33–34.

64. Ibid., 52–53.

65. Falü Pinglun (Law Review) 15 (1947): 80. (The journal stopped publication in 1937 at Vol.14 and did not resume until 1947; therefore, the first issue of Vol.15 covered important judicial documents during 1938–46).

66. Zhonghua Minguo Xianxing Fagui Daquan (A Complete Compilation of Current Laws and Regulations of the Republic of China), 64.

67. Bernhardt, Women and Property in China, 183–86.

68. Zhonghua Minguo Xianxing Fagui Daquan (A Complete Compilation of Current Laws and Regulations of the Republic of China), 64.

69. For more on the Nationalist ideology about gender equality and its impact on law and justice, see Bernhardt, Women and Property in China; Kuo, Margaret, Intolerable Cruelty: Marriage, Law, and Society in Early Twentieth-Century China (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012); and Tran, Lisa, Concubines in Court: Marriage and Monogamy in Twentieth-Century China (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015).

70. Wei, Minguo Daliyuan Jieshili Quanwen (A Complete Compilation of the Supreme Court Legal Interpretations), 1405–6.

71. Falü Pinglun (Law Review) 13 (1935): 24 .

72. For a survey of civil justice in China that covers the Qing era through the post-Mao era, see Huang, Philip C. C., Chinese Civil Justice: Past and Present (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2010).

He wishes to thank the journal's two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on the earlier versions of the article.

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
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