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6 Between Informal Mediation and Formal Adjudication: The Third Realm of Qing Civil Justice

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Chapter Summary

Litigation in the Qing can be separated into three stages: the filing of the complaint by the plaintiff, the initial response of the yamen (court), and the final court session rendering a decision. This chapter suggests that the Qing civil justice system actually operated in large measure in that intermediate third realm where the formal and informal overlapped. The participation of both the formal and informal in the third realm of Qing civil justice accounts in part for the debates in past scholarship about the nature of the system. It suggests that to clarify how civil justice worked in the Qing, we need to delineate three realms of that system: the informal realm of community and kin mediation, the formal realm of court adjudication, and the third realm in which both systems operated, often in a negotiatory type of relationship.

Keywords: court adjudication; informal mediation; Qing civil justice



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