Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

Taiwan in Asia

According to the work “Guide to Foreign and International Citations”, by the Journal of International Law and Politics (New York University School of Law):

Taiwan is a unitary state and democratic republic that currently administers Taiwan,
Penghu and several outlying islands of Fujian. It has a civil law system primarily influenced by
Japan, Germany, and the United States. The official title of Taiwan is “Republic of China”
(ROC) (N.B., “China” refers to the People’s Republic of China (PRC)). Most major nations
maintain unofficial, semi-diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The official language is Mandarin
Chinese, but Taiwanese is frequently used. The Romanization of Chinese in Taiwan uses both
Tongyong pinyin, which has been officially adopted by the national government, and Hanyu
pinyin. Taiwan’s legal system is based on the civil law tradition.

The Constitution, adopted in 1947 for all of China, has been heavily revised since 1991
(with the last revision occurring in 2000), in response to Taiwan’s abandonment of its claim of
governing mainland China. The Taiwanese authorities no longer dispute the fact that the PRC
controls mainland China. The Constitution establishes Taiwan’s form of governance.
The President, who is the head of state, has authority over the five administrative
branches (Yuan): Executive, Legislative, Control, Judicial, and Examination. The president is
directly elected by the people to a four-year term that may be renewed once.

Executive power is vested in the Executive branch, which consists of the Premier and
the Cabinet. The Premier, who is the head of the Executive branch, is appointed by the President. Members of the Cabinet are nominated by the President and approved by the Legislative branch.

The second National Assembly, elected in 1991, was composed of 325 members. The
majority was elected directly while 100 were chosen from party slates in proportion to the
popular vote. This National Assembly amended the Constitution in 1994, paving the way for the
direct election of the president and vice president in March 1996. The National Assembly
retained the authority to amend the constitution, recall or impeach the president and the vice
president, and ratify certain senior-level presidential appointments. In April 2000, the members
of the National Assembly voted to permit their terms of office to expire without holding new
elections. They also determined that such an election would be called in the event the National
Assembly is needed to decide a presidential recall or a constitutional amendment.

The main lawmaking body, the Legislative Yuan (LY), was originally elected in the late
1940s in parallel with the National Assembly. The first LY had 773 seats and was viewed as a
“rubber stamp” institution. The second LY was elected in 1992. The third LY, elected in 1995,
had 157 members serving 3-year terms. The fourth LY, elected in 1998, was expanded to 225
members. The LY has greatly enhanced its standing in relation to the Executive Yuan and has
established itself as an important player at the central level.

Legislative power is vested primarily in the unicameral LY with 225 seats, of which
168 seats are elected by popular vote as regional representatives. Eight seats are popularly
elected by the aboriginal people. Of the remainder, 41 seats are given to national representatives and 8 seats to overseas Chinese representatives, whom are appointed by the political parties by way of proportional representation. Members serve three-year terms and can be elected indefinitely. Originally, the National Assembly, as a standing constitutional convention and electoral college, held some parliamentary functions. It has now become a non-standing body of 300 delegates appointed by the political parties in proportion to their membership in the LY in circumstances when the Legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment, a change to national territory, or an impeachment of the president or vice president.

The Control Branch monitors the efficiency of public service and investigates instances
of corruption. The twenty-nine Members of the Control Branch are appointed to six-year terms
by the President and approved by the National Assembly.

The Examination Branch functions as a civil service commission and includes the
Ministry of Examination, which recruits officials through competitive examination, and the
Ministry of Personnel, which manages the civil service. The President appoints the head of the
Examination Branch.

The Judicial Branch administers Taiwan’s courts. It includes a sixteen-member
Council of Grand Justices, which has exclusive authority to interpret the Constitution and which
also renders binding interpretations of statutes and regulations. Grand Justices are appointed by the President, with the consent of the National Assembly, to nonrenewable, nine-year terms.

The court system is composed primarily of the Supreme Court, High Court, and District Courts, all of which have general jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters. The District Courts have
original jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases, and the High Courts have appellate jurisdiction
to review District Court decisions and original jurisdiction for treason cases. The Supreme Court,
as the court of last resort, has appellate jurisdiction to review all lower court decisions on
questions of law. Parallel to these courts of general jurisdiction are the Administrative Courts
(the Supreme Administrative Court and the High Administrative Courts), which hear public law
controversies, and the Committee on the Discipline of Public Functionaries, which presides over
trials of civil servants accused of misconduct. Judges of these courts are selected in the same
manner as other civil servants.

The Constitution provides for local self-government, which is conducted at the following three levels: province and special municipalities, county and provincial cities, and rural and urban townships or county municipalities. The heads of the local governments are elected by the people to four-year terms. Limited legislative powers concerning local affairs are
exercised primarily by the municipal and county councils, which are elected by the people.

Taiwan Online Legal Resources


Laws and Legislation

Laws by Subject

  • Taxation (Taipei National Tax Administration, Minister of Finance): In English and Chinese.


  • Interpretations of the Constitutional Court ( Judicial Yuan the): This website provides English translation of all of the Interpretations made byConstitutional Court , a.k.a. the Council of the Grand Justices. The database is searchable by keywords and citation numbers and has a concise list of the issues in each Interpretation. The Chinese version has access to the concurring/dissenting opinions and petition briefs of each Interpretation. The Constitutional Court ‘s docket (selec, not complete) and summary judgments can also be found in the Court’s website.
  • Law and Regulations Retrieving System ( ??????????? ) (the Judicial Yuan) [Chinese only]: This website provides a searchable database of the judicial decisions (including precedents, judicial resolutions, and judgments) in Taiwan , but the judgments covered by this database only date back to 1996 or later.
  • Laws and Regulations Database of the Republic of China ( ??????????? — ?????? ) (Ministry of Justice) [Chinese only]: The coverage of the judicial database is limited to the Interpretations of the Constitutional Court , the Precedents of the Supreme Court, and the Precedents of the Supreme Administrative Court   Law Bank ( ????? ) (commercial website) [Chinese only]: The coverage of the judicial database of this website is similar to that of the Judicial Yuan.
  •   RootLaw ( ????? ) (commercial website) [Chinese only]: The coverage of the judicial database of this website is similar to that of the Judicial Yuan.


  • Executive Yuan (official website): In Chinese and English.  Includes a list of government websites.
  • National Assembly (official website): In Chinese and English.
  • Legislative Yuan (official website): In Chinese and English.
  • Judicial Yuan (official website): In Chinese and English. English interface descriptive only
  •   The E-government Entry Point of Taiwan (GIO): This is a gateway to all the government websites in Taiwan .
  • Information Network of Governmental Documents ( ??????? ) (National Central Library) [Chinese only]: The website provides searchable databases of government gazettes, national statistics, government publications, and government-related news.
  • The Executive Yuan Gazettes Online (the Executive Yuan): While the full texts of the Executive Yuan Gazettes can be searched and retrieved only in Chinese, this website contains the English summary of the latest issue of the Executive Yuan Gazette and provides a simple search engine.
  • National Archives Information ( ??????? ) (National Archives Administration) [Chinese only]: This online access to the National Archives supports search by keywords.
  •   The Human Rights Related Archives Exhibit Online (National Archives Administration)

Subscription Databases

Selected Historical Materials

•  Digital Japanese Ruling and Postwar Archives Project ( ?????????? ) (Taiwan Historica) [Chinese only]

Research Guides

  • Internet Chinese Legal Research Center: Excellent web site pulling together links to laws, bibliographies and legal research guides for the PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
  • Taiwan Legal Research (University of Washington School of Law).
  •   Angle Lawdata ( ??????? ) (commercial website) [Chinese only][subscription required]: This is a new commercial database on law.
  •   Index to Chinese Periodical Materials ( ???????????? ) (National Central Library) [Chinese only]: This is a general database where law-related periodicals can also be found.
  •   Electronic Theses and Dissertations System ( ?????????? ) (National Central Library): Visitors to this general website can search master/doctoral theses or dissertations about law in Taiwan . While most of the law theses are written in Chinese, each is required to present certain information (title, author, keywords) and an abstract in English, which in turn enables the English version of this website to work. Some theses are downloadable for subscribers.

    Selected Online Resources

  •   Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica (IIAS) ( ?????????????? ) [mainly in Chinese]: This site has links to all of the departments, colleges, and schools of law in Taiwan . The papers for the conferences held by the IIAS are downloadable.
  • Taiwan Law Society ( ????? ) [Chinese only]
  • Taiwanese Society of International Law ( ??????? ) [Chinese only]
  •   The Judicial Reform Foundation ( ????????????? ): Visitors can read the current and past issues of the Judicial Reform Magazines (in Chinese only) online.
  • Taiwan Association for Human Rights ( ???????

Note: We linked the resources to archive.org in an effort to decrease the number of broken links cited.

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