Do the 'Haves' Come Out Ahead in Shanghai Courts?
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming
48 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 30, 2012
Drawing on 2,724 documents of adjudication decisions from Shanghai courts, this paper tests the Galanter thesis that the stronger party tends to prevail over the weaker party in litigation. We find that the stronger parties not only win more often, but also do so by a large margin. Overall, institutional litigants fare better than individual litigants. When the litigants are classified by their organizational and social status, government agencies or government-related companies are the biggest winners, enjoying an enormous advantage, and farmers are the most disadvantaged underdogs, with other individuals and companies in between. When controlling for legal representation, these winning gaps remain significant and sizable. The edge of the stronger parties recurs across categories of cases in different issue areas of the law. Echoing previous comparative studies, we cast doubt on the Party Capability Theory. We speculate that the causes of judicial inequality in China lie not only in resource gaps but also in the roots of the law and the nature of the court.
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