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This book chapter compares civil litigation in the courts of first and second instances in Taiwan in 2010–2015 with that in U.S. federal courts in 2010–2013. The two judicial systems, as expected, are different in many ways. Settlement rates in Taiwan, even broadly defined, were below 25%; in U.S. federal court, they exceed 70%. In Taiwan, summary judgments were basically non-existent; in U.S. federal court, they represent nearly a third of merits judgments. Rates of appeal in Taiwan are nearly 10 times higher (27% versus 3%) than in the U.S. federal courts. And yet judges in Taiwan, at least those in the court of first instance, handled cases more quickly than their colleagues in the U.S. federal courts—indeed, twice as fast. Yet, the two judicial systems respond similarly when encountering simple debt collection cases. These cases, large in number in both systems, fail to settle as standard theories would predict. Instead, these disputes are frequently resolved through default judgments. This chapter provides cautionary lessons for future empirical comparative civil procedure studies.
This book chapter advances a hypothesis that judges tend to avoid ex post inefficiency (that is, inefficiency falling to litigants), but judges are less inclined to avoid ex ante inefficiency (that is, inefficiency incurred by future parties). Drawing on three empirical studies which the author has conducted on property cases rendered by courts in Taiwan, this chapter presents preliminary evidence to test this hypothesis. The three studies are consistent with the hypothesis, as judges avoid ex post inefficiency in two studies (co-ownership partition and building encroachment) but fail to avoid ex ante inefficiency in one study (trespass to land).
This book empirically explores whether and under what conditions the judicial process is efficient. Three specific issues are addressed: first, disputants self-select into litigation. Do they tend to bring cases with merit? Second, filed cases differ in their social import. Do courts select more important cases to devote more resource to? Third, courts establish precedents, affect resource allocation in the cases at hand, and influence future behaviours of transacting parties. Do courts, like Judge Posner asserts, tend to make decisions that enhance allocative efficiency and reduce transaction costs? Positive answers to the above questions attest to the efficiency of the judicial process. What drive efficient or inefficient outcomes are the selections and decisions by litigants, litigators, and judges. Their earlier selections and decisions affect later ones. Eleven chapters in this book, authored by leading empirical legal scholars in the world, deal with these issues in the US, Europe, and Asia.