Publication Date

Fall 2011

Document Type


First Page



The process of legal modernization in Taiwan began in 1895, when the Japanese colonial government first imposed westernized modern law on Taiwan. Before 1895, the code of imperial Ch'ing - deeply influenced by the Confucian legal culture which emphasized social harmony and opposed lawsuits - had been the state law for more than two centuries. A second major transition started in the 1920s, during which Taiwanese people gradually became accustomed to access modern courts for their civil disputes, and the number of civil lawsuits eventually surpassed that of cases under mediation. The positive attitude toward civil litigation continued after the Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan in 1949. As a historical coincidence, the Nationalists also applied German- and Japanese-style legal codes in Taiwan, including double tracks of town mediation and family court mediation. Besides addressing this "law-versus-custom" dichotomy, the following article concerns itself mainly with the continuing and ever-evolving process of dialectic and mutual resistance between the different legal orders.

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