Taiwan: The Legal System

Last Updated: 25 October 2004

Article by Victor Chang and Marianne Chao

Taiwan has a codified system of law where the Constitution of Taiwan is the supreme law of the land. The Legislative Yuan enacts laws through powers granted to it by the Constitution. The Executive Yuan may also announce regulations and administrative orders in accordance with the law. The codes of law are traditionally drawn from other countries with similar codified legal systems like Japan and Germany and from traditional Chinese law.

All civil matters including commercial transactions are governed substantively by the Civil Code and procedurally by the Code of Civil Procedure. The Civil Code regulates all aspects of trade, agency, employment, contracts, leases, loans, mandates, partnership, suretyship and tort. All criminal matters are governed substantively by the Criminal Code and procedurally by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

As a civil law jurisdiction, legal decisions are made by reference to judicial interpretation of the codes and precedent, although compared with common law jurisdictions, the extent of reliance on case law may be less.

The Courts. The court system in Taiwan is divided into three levels: the District Courts, the High Courts and the Supreme Court, in ascending authority. These courts have jurisdiction over both civil and criminal cases.

The District Courts are usually the courts of first instance and have jurisdiction over civil cases where the amount involved exceeds NTD500,000 (US$16,000). The District Courts also have jurisdiction over non-contentious bankruptcy, marital property registration, guardianship and adoption, inheritance matters, company dissolution and liquidation. Most commercial disputes will therefore commence in the District Courts.

Appeals from the District Courts lie directly to the High Courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court and is found at the seat of the central government, presently located in Taipei. A High Court decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court in limited circumstances such as when there is improper application of laws and/or regulations. To appeal a civil case, the value of the claim must exceed NTD1,000,000 (US$32,000).

A single judge or a panel of three judges usually presides over a case in the District Courts. At the High Court, three judges preside over each case, and usually five judges will review appeals to the Supreme Court.

Apart from civil and criminal proceedings, a litigant may bring administrative proceedings in the Administrative Court if his rights have been affected by an unlawful or improper act of or an omission to act by a government agency.

The Legal Profession. In both criminal and civil proceedings, only Taiwan-licensed lawyers are permitted to appear in court. Lawyers are admitted to the Taiwanese Bar after passing the national bar examinations and completing five months of internship with a firm in Taiwan and one month in the Legal Training Institute. After Taiwan’s accession to the WTO, foreign lawyers with at least five years of experience may apply to become qualified as a foreign-licensed lawyer to practice the law of his or her home jurisdiction in Taiwan.

The Trial Process. Taiwan does not employ a jury system. In most civil cases, the trial process is adversarial in nature and the courts may only render decisions based on claims and evidence submitted by the parties. In criminal cases, however, the judges may on their own initiative take a more active role in the proceedings by investigating facts, questioning witnesses, collecting evidence or defining issues.

Court fees in civil suits must be prepaid by the plaintiff and the appellant upon filing and are usually borne by the losing party at the end of the action. Other court expenses such as expenses for witnesses, translators, mail or stenographers are paid by the party using or requesting such services. Unless otherwise agreed upon or directed by the courts, each party will usually bear its own attorney’s fees.

Enforcement of Judgments. Foreign judgments may be recognized and enforced in Taiwan if:

  • the foreign court has jurisdiction over the matter according to the laws of Taiwan;
  • the defendant was properly served with notice by the foreign courts;
  • the judgment of the foreign court does not offend good morals or public policy; and
  • there is reciprocal recognition of judgments between Taiwan and the foreign jurisdiction.

Arbitration. Arbitration in Taiwan is a common method of dispute resolution for construction, intellectual property, technology, international trade, securities and other disputes requiring specific or technical knowledge. Taiwan recently amended its arbitration laws to bring it in line with international standards as defined by the UNCITRAL Model Law. Arbitration in Taiwan is now governed by the Taiwan Arbitration Law.

Under the Arbitration Law, an agreement to arbitrate is only valid if it is in respect of a dispute whose resolution through arbitration is legally permissible and the agreement is in writing or expressed in any tangible format showing a common intention for the parties to submit the dispute to arbitration in Taiwan. An agreement to arbitrate may preclude litigation in the courts.

Where the agreement does not specify the number of arbitrators to be appointed, each party may appoint its own arbitrator and the chairman may be appointed by agreement between the two party approved arbitrators. If the parties cannot agree on the selection of the chairman within the specified period, the chairman may be appointed by the court upon one party’s petition. The ROC Arbitration Association is the only competent authority for arbitration in Taiwan and is in charge of coordinating all arbitration procedures. An arbitrator may be an attorney, a judge, a prosecutor, an arbitrator in another arbitration institution or an expert specialising in a practice area for at least five years. There are no restrictions as to who may represent the parties at an arbitration.

Awards are usually rendered within a period of six months after the arbitration hearing. A party may apply to the courts to revoke the arbitral award if there are found to be substantial procedural defects or misconduct in the arbitration.

A foreign arbitral award may be enforced in Taiwan once it is recognized by a court in Taiwan. A foreign arbitral award will not be recognized if such an award is contrary to public order and good morals or if the subject matter of the dispute is one that may not be settled by arbitration under the laws of Taiwan. The court may also refuse to enforce due to the lack of reciprocity. The courts in Taiwan have, in the past, recognized arbitral awards rendered in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Korea.

Jones Day’s Taiwan Dispute Resolution Practice

Jones Day opened its Taipei Office in 1990 to meet the fastgrowing needs of the Firm’s international and Taiwanese clients. Since then, the Taipei Office has advised many Asian, US and European businesses and individuals in connection with their investments, acquisitions, joint ventures, technology transfers, financings, securities offerings and dispute resolution matters in and outside of Taiwan.

Lawyers in the Taipei Office are fully qualified to practice both Taiwan and US law. Most of them are multilingual (Mandarin Chinese and/or Taiwanese and English) and are experienced in Taiwan and foreign transactions. The Taipei Office regularly advises clients on a wide range of Taiwan legal issues, as well as on US and other international legal matters.

Dispute resolution is a major practice area of the Taipei Office. Our dispute resolution team comprises eight lawyers experienced in handling all facets of commercial dispute resolution matters, including local and international arbitration, mediation, litigation, enforcement of foreign judgments and service of process. We have extensive experience in construction and engineering disputes, intellectual property infringement, tax and other regulatory litigation. Our practice focuses on the following types of dispute:

  • Banking and trade financing
  • Commercial fraud
  • Company law
  • Construction, engineering and infrastructure
  • Defamation
  • Employment
  • Information technology
  • Insolvency
  • International trade and sales of goods
  • Judicial review and administrative law
  • PRC commercial arbitration
  • Financial regulations
  • Service of process
  • Intellectual property infringement
  • Tax litigation
  • Regulatory litigation

We work regularly and closely with our colleagues in the Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong offices and provide clients with a one-stop option for cross border disputes in the Greater China region.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.