|Country||Republic of China|
|Composition method||Presidential nomination with Legislative Yuan confirmation|
|Authorized by||Constitution of the Republic of China|
|Judge term length||4 or 8 years|
|Number of positions||15|
|President and Chief Justice|
|Since||13 October 2010|
|Since||13 October 2010|
The Judicial Yuan (Chinese: 司法院; pinyin: Sīfǎ Yuàn; Wade–Giles: Szu1-fa3 Yüan4; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Su-hoat Īⁿ) is one of five branches of the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan and serves as the highest judicial organ in the Republic of China. Its Justices of the Constitutional Court (大法官會議, literally ‘Council of Grand Justices’), with 15 members, is charged with interpreting the Constitution. The President and Vice President of the Judicial Yuan are chosen from among the Honorable Justices by the President. Eight of the grand justices, including the president and vice president of the Judicial Yuan, serve four-year terms, and the remaining Honorable Justices serve eight-year terms.
The Judicial Yuan also supervises the lower courts, which consist of the Supreme Court, the high courts, district courts, the Administrative Court, and the Commission on the Disciplinary Sanctions of Public Functionaries.
According to Articles 77 and 78 of the Constitution of the Republic of China, Article 5 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution, Articles 30, 43, and 75 of the Local Government Systems Act, the major functions of the Judicial Yuan are as follows:
- To interpret the Constitution and to unify the interpretation of laws and orders;
- To impeach the President and the Vice President of the Republic and to adjudicate cases concerning the dissolution of political parties that violate the Constitution;
- To adjudicate civil and criminal cases;
- To adjudicate administrative cases;
- To adjudicate cases concerning disciplinary measures with respect to public functionaries; and
- To interpret whether local self-government ordinances and matters conflict with national laws or the Constitution.
- Judicial Administrative Power of the Constitutional Court.
Each District Court may establish one or more summary divisions for the adjudication of cases suitable for summary judgment. The civil summary procedure is for cases involving an amount in controversys of not more than 300,000 New Taiwan dollar and for simple legal disputes. Currently there are a total of 45 divisions in Taiwan. Additionally, there is a Taiwan Kaohsiung Juvenile Court, established in accordance with the Law Governing the Disposition of Juvenile Cases.
Each of the District Courts has civil, criminal and summary divisions and may establish specialized divisions to handle cases involving juveniles, family, traffic, and labor matters as well as motions to set aside rulings on violations of the Statute for the Maintenance of Social Order. Each division has a Division Chief Judge who supervises and assigns the business of the division. Each District Court has a Public Defenders' Office and a Probation Officers' Office.
A single judge hears and decides cases in ordinary and summary proceedings as well as in small claims cases. A panel of three judges decides cases of great importance in ordinary proceedings as well as appeals or interlocutory appeals from the summary and small claims proceedings. Criminal cases are decided by a panel of three judges, with the exception of summary proceedings which may be held by a single judge. The Juvenile Court hears and decides only cases involving juveniles.
There is one High Court (Chinese: 高等法院; pinyin: Gāoděng Fǎyuàn) in the Taiwan area with four branch courts in Taichung (台中), Tainan (臺南), Kaohsiung (高雄), and Hualien (花蓮). In the Fuchien area, there is a Kinmen Branch Court of the Fuchien High Court. The High Courts and its branches exercise jurisdiction over the following cases:
- Appeals from judgments of the District Courts or their branches as courts of the first instance in ordinary proceedings of civil and criminal cases;
- Interlocutory appeals from rulings of the District Courts or their branches in ordinary proceedings;
- First instance criminal cases relating to rebellion, treason, and offenses against friendly relations with foreign states;
- Military appellate cases whose judgments are imprisonment for a definite period rendered by the High Military Courts and their branches; and
- Other cases prescribed by law.
The High Courts and its Branch Courts are divided into civil, criminal and specialized divisions. Each Division is composed of one Division Chief Judge and two Associate Judges. Additionally, the High Court and its Branch Courts have a Clerical Bureau, which is headed by a Chief Clerk who assists the President with administrative affairs.
Cases before the High Courts or its Branch Courts are heard and decided by a panel of three judges. However, one of the judges may conduct preparatory proceedings.
The Court has seven civil courts, each of which has one presiding judge and three judges to handle civil appeals of the second instance and counter-appeal cases under the system of collegial panels, but they do not deal with simple litigation. The Court has eleven criminal courts, each of which has one presiding judge and two or three judges to handle criminal appeals of the second instance and counter-appeal cases under the system of collegial panels as well as litigation of the first instance concerning civil strife, foreign aggression or violation of foreign relations. Based on various needs, the Court manages several professional courts such as the Professional Court of Fair Trade Cases, Family Professional Court, Professional Court of International Trade, Maritime Professional Court, Professional Court of State Compensation, Professional Court of Anti-corruption, Professional Court of Intellectual Property Rights, Professional Court of Juvenile Delinquency, Professional Court of Serious Criminal Cases, Professional Court of Public Security, Professional Court of Fair Trade Act, Professional Court of Sexual Harassment, etc.
The Supreme Court (Chinese: 最高法院; pinyin: Zuìgāo Fǎyuàn) is the court of last resort for civil and criminal cases. Except for civil cases involving amounts not exceeding NT $1,500,000 and petty offences enumerated in Article 376 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, any civil or criminal case may be appealed to the Court. This Court exercises jurisdiction over the following cases:
- appeals from judgments of High Courts or their branches as courts of first instance in criminal cases;
- appeals from judgments of High Courts or their branches as courts of second instance in civil and criminal cases;
- appeals from rulings of High Courts or their branches;
- appeals from judgments or rulings rendered by the civil court of second instance by the summary procedure, the amounts in controversy exceeding NT $1,500,000, and with permission granted in accordance with specified provisions;
- civil and criminal retrials within the jurisdiction of the court of third instance;
- extraordinary appeals; or
- any other case as specified by laws.
The current administrative litigation system adopts a "Two Level Two Instance System" litigation procedure. The administrative courts are classified into the High Administrative Court, which is the court of first instance, and the Supreme Administrative Court, which is the appellate court. The first instance of the High Administrative Court is a trial of facts. The Supreme Administrative Court is an appellate court.
Article 80 of the Constitution states that Judges shall be above partisanship and shall, in accordance with law, hold trials independently, free from any interference. Furthermore, Article 81 states that Judges shall hold office for life. No judge shall be removed from office unless he has been guilty of a criminal offense or subjected to disciplinary measure, or declared to be under interdiction. No judge shall, except in accordance with law, be suspended or transferred or have his salary reduced. Judges shall be appointed from those persons who have passed the Examination of Judicial Officials, completed the Training Course for Judicial Officials and possessed distinguished records after a term of practice.
Justices of the Constitutional Court
The Justices of the Constitutional Court (also known as the Council of Grand Justices) provides rulings on the following four categories of cases:
- Interpretation of the Constitution;
- Uniform Interpretation of Statutes and Regulations;
- Impeachment of President and Vice President of the Republic of China; and
- Declaring the dissolution of political parties in violation of the Constitution.
A petition for an interpretation of the Constitution shall be filed in the following circumstances:
- Where a central or local government agency is uncertain regarding the application of the Constitution while exercising its powers, or, if the agency, while exercising its powers, has disputes with another agency regarding the application of the Constitution, or if the agency is uncertain of the constitutionality of a particular law or order when applying the same;
- Where an individual, a juristic person, or a political party, alleges that his or its constitutional right has been infringed and who has exhausted all judicial remedies provided by law, questions the constitutionality of the law or order applied by the court of last resort in its final decision;
- Where the Members of the Legislative Yuan, in exercising their powers, are uncertain regarding the application of the Constitution or with regard to the constitutionality of a particular law when applying the same, and at least one-third of the total number of the Members of the Legislative Yuan have filed a petition; or
- Where any court believes that a particular law, which it is applying to a case pending with it, is in conflict with the Constitution.
List of Justices of the Constitutional Court
The Justices are:
- The Honorable Chief Justice and President of the Judicial Yuan Rai Hau-min
- The Honorable Justice and Vice President of the Judicial Yuan Su Yeong-chin
- The Honorable Justice Lin Sea-yau
- The Honorable Justice Chih Chi-ming
- The Honorable Justice Li Chen-shan
- The Honorable Justice Tsay Ching-you
- The Honorable Justice Huang Mao-zong
- The Honorable Justice Chen Ming
- The Honorable Justice Yeh Pai-hsiu
- The Honorable Justice Chen Chun-sheng
- The Honorable Justice Chen Shin-min
- The Honorable Justice Chen Be-yue
- The Honorable Justice Huang Hsi-chun
- The Honorable Justice Lo Chang-Fa
- The Honorable Justice Tang Te-chung
List of Presidents of the Judicial Yuan
- Wang Ch'ung-hui (1948-6)
- Hsieh Kuan-sheng (1958-6)
- Tien Chung-chin (1971-12)
- Tai Yen-hui (1977-4)
- Huang Shao-ku (1979-1987)
- Lin Yang-kang (1987-194)
- Shih Chi-yang (1994-1999)
- Weng Yueh-sheng (1999–2007)
- Lai In-jaw (2007–2010)
- Rai Hau-min (2010–present)
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- Constitution of the Republic of China
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- See ZHONGHUA MINGUO XIANFA (Constitution of the Republic of China) (Taiwan) arts. 77-82, available at http://www.judicial.gov.tw/constitutionalcourt/EN/p07_2.asp?lawno=36 (last visited Mar. 28, 2012)
- See ZHONGHUA MINGUO XIANFA ZHENGXIU TIAOWEN (The Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China) (Taiwan) art. 5, available at http://www.judicial.gov.tw/constitutionalcourt/EN/p07_2.asp?lawno=98 (last visited Mar. 28, 2012)
- See Structure and Functions of the Judicial Yuan, available at http://www.judicial.gov.tw/en/english/aboutus/aboutus04/aboutus04-03.asp (last visited Mar. 28, 2012)
- See, Taipei District Court, About Us - Organization,http://tpd.judicial.gov.tw/indexen.asp?struID=52&navID=53&contentID=125 (last visited Mar. 28, 2012)
- See, Taiwan High Court, available athttp://tph.judicial.gov.tw/en/default.htm (last visited Mar. 28, 2012)
- See Justices of the Constitutional Court, available at http://www.judicial.gov.tw/constitutionalcourt/EN/p01_03.asp (last visited Mar. 28, 2012)
- The Judicial Yuan
- The Ministry of Justice
- Taiwan Law Resources
- Official Website of the Supreme Court of ROC