Taiwan: Grand Chambers Are Established At Courts Of Final Appeals

With the birth of Grand Chambers (大法庭) under the Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court on July 4, 2019 and the demise of the nonagenarian precedent-resolution system on the same day, Taiwan enters a new chapter in its judicial history.

The Precedent-Resolution System is abandoned

Taiwan's legal system bears an obvious imprint of the Continental Law. Parallel to the Supreme Court (SC) which is the final court of appeal for civil and criminal disputes, a separate Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) serves as the final court of appeal for administrative disputes, as a result of the principle of judicial dualism of private law and public law. While written laws and regulations are placed at a higher level in the hierarchy of sources of law, "precedents" and "resolutions" set by the SC or SAC used to have a strong de facto binding effect on lower courts. A precedent was a holding on a legal issue given by the SC or SAC in a decision and later recognized as of precedential value by a periodic internal pan-panel conference of the same court (removal of an old precedent was subject to the same procedure), and when a pan-panel conference of SC or SAC reached a consensus on an issue where divided views used to exist, a resolution was formed.

Despite being an economic mechanism to harmonize judges' views and fill legal gaps, the precedent-resolution system was criticized as being decontextualized, transgressing into the legislature's domain, and lacking of initiative, immediacy and transparency. In the National Conference on Judicial Reform held by Taiwan's Government in 2018, a conclusion was made to abandon the precedent-resolution system entirely and establish "Grand Chambers" in the SC and SAC to perform the intended functions in an improved manner.

Grand Chambers' Organization

Accordingly, three Grand Chambers were established on July 4, 2019, two of them under the SC to review civil and criminal law issues respectively, and the other one under the SAC to review administrative law issues.

Figure 1. Organization of the Supreme Court

Each of the Grand Chambers under the SC consists of 11 judges. The Chief Judge of the SC also holds the position of the presiding judge of one Grand Chamber, and shall appoint another colleague judge to be the other Grand Chamber's presiding judge. Other 9 members of a Grand Chamber under the SC are elected by anonymous vote among judges at the respective (Civil or Criminal) panels of the SC, with each panel having one reserved seat. The 11th judge is designated on an ad hoc and case-by-case basis by the panel that proposes to initiate a Grand Chamber proceeding. (Articles 51-6 & 51-7 of the Supreme Court Organization Act) The Grand Chamber at the SAC is organized under a similar rule but consists of 9 members instead of 11. (Articles 15-6 and 15-7 of the Supreme Administrative Court Organization Act)

Initiation of a Grand Chamber proceeding

A Grand Chamber proceeding can be initiated by a panel of the SA or SAC through filing of a Proposition with the related Grand Chamber in either of the following circumstances.

Figure 2. Grand Chamber's Proceeding

  1. Proposition for Judicial Consistency

A panel shall file a Proposition for Judicial Consistency if its member judges, after conducting a panel discussion over a case pending before them, find their decisions will be based on a legal opinion which is at variance with one or all preexisting opinions of the same court. That is, if the panel wishes to depart from an established view of the same court, it is obligated to file a Proposition; if the panel finds its peer panels have or may have divergent views on the issue, it is also obligated to file a proposition.

To ensure the divergence is genuine, before filing a Proposition for Judicial Consistency, the proposing panel shall first send a written invitation to at least one of its peer panels to seek their comments on the proposed view. An invited panel is required to comment in 30 days upon receipt of the invitation, and its silence will be deemed as support of the preexisting opinion which the Proposition aims to change. Only after the proposing panel receives one comment (one is enough) in support of the preexisting opinion, can it file a Proposition for Judicial Consistency. (Articles 51-2 & 51-4 of the Supreme Court Organization Act)

While the Proposition can only be filed by the panel in charge of the case on an ex officio basis, a party in the case may move the panel-in-charge to make a Proposition for Judicial Consistency.

  1. Proposition for Law-Making

A panel may file a Proposition for Law-Making if its member judges, after conducting a panel discussion over a case pending before them, find their decisions will be based on a legal opinion that is of "principal importance" (this term actually derives from the German legal term "die prinzipielle Wesentlichkeit.")

For example, as the Legislative Notes on the Draft Amendments to the Supreme Court Organization Act indicated, a legal opinion is of principal importance if it is "beneficial to facilitate the continuous formation of law" or if the issue the opinion addresses is "novel, highly controversial, and widely existing" and hence "requires a unified opinion be rendered immediately and prospectively." (The phrase "continuous formation of law" derives again from a German legal term, i.e. Rechtsforbildung.) (Article 51-3 of the Supreme Court Organization Act)

As no judicial inconsistency is involved here, the proposing panel is not required to extend an invitation to peer panels for comment before filing a Proposition for Law-Making. Neither has a party in the case the standing to move the panel-in-charge to file a Proposition for Law-Making.

A Grand Chamber's adjudication

A Grand Chamber's scope of adjudication is limited to the legal issue delineated in the Proposition, and shall not extend to the case per se that gives rise to the legal issue. As such, a Grand Chamber's decision is always in the form of an interlocutory ruling, rather than a judgment which is preserved for the proposing panel to render. While the proposing panel's conclusive judgment on the merits shall be drafted on the basis of the (majority opinion of the) Grand Chamber's ruling, the ruling's binding power is limited to the specific case.

As such, theoretically speaking, a Grand Chamber's ruling has a weaker source of law status compared with what a precedent or resolution used to have, since lower courts may or may not, in a future case, follow the opinion expressed in a Grand Chamber ruling. If a party in a future case finds that a preexisting ruling of a Grand Chamber has become outdated and asks the lower court to change it but to no avail, then it still can take one last shot at the SC (or SAC) level by submitting a Motion for Grand Chamber Trial to the panel-in-charge, i.e. request the panel file a "proposition for judicial consistency." However, note the mandatory representation rule: a non-prosecutor party in a Grand Chamber proceeding at the SC need be represented by an attorney-at-law. (Article 51-8 of the Supreme Court Organization Act)

Apart from the above, a Grand Chamber proceeding basically applies mutatis mutandis the same procedural rules as those adopted in an SC or SAC panel proceeding. (Article 51-11 of the Supreme Court Organization Act) But there are still a few notable differences.

First, a Grand Chamber shall hold oral hearing sua sponte. An SC or SAC panel, on the other hand, has full discretion to determine whether or not to set a hearing. In fact, only a handful of hearings have ever been held by SC and SAC since they were founded in 1927.

Second, all members of a Grand Chamber shall attend the hearing, and they shall adjudicate the case jointly, while any member disagreeing with the majority opinion may provide his or her dissenting opinion which shall be laid-open as part of the entire Chamber ruling. This makes the Grand Chambers the second judicial organ of Taiwan that has a clearly codified mechanism to release judicial dissents for public discussion (the first one being the Constitutional Court).

Third, a Grand Chamber may, ex officio or on request of a party or its attorney, invite a scholar or expert to provide a written opinion on a special legal issue or express his or her opinion during a Grand Chamber hearing. The invited scholar is required to disclose whether his or her opinion is prepared jointly or cooperatively with any party or its attorney and/or under financial support from them or from any other entity.

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”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions