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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: December 2019

3 - Speedy Adjudication in Hard Cases and Low Settlement Rates in Easy Cases


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.

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