The Founding of the Institute
The Institutum Iurisprudentiae was founded at Academia Sinica in July 2011. The founding of the Institute can be traced back to October 1999, when Dr. Yuan Tseh Lee, the President of Academia Sinica at the time, commissioned a planning committee for the Institute’s development. Convened by the fifth-term Grand Justice Herbert HP Ma, the committee met seven times and submitted a Founding Proposal to the Council of Academia Sinica on 30th June 2000. The Council, however, did not approve of the proposal.
Three years later, in December 2003, President Lee appointed seven members for a second planning committee, convened by the sixth-term Grand Justice Tze-Chien Wang. In planning on the Institute’s development, the committee took into account the current status of legal studies in Taiwan, academic resources, and the distinctive missions and role of Academia Sinica being the nation’s premier academic research institution; it came to agree on four fundamental principles:
I. To revamp legal studies in Taiwan by breaking new ground with the spirit of creativity.
II. To develop core areas of research, where resources and strengths are to be combined to yield first-rate, internationally recognized scholarship.
III. To maintain a flexible organizing structure where research staff can freely interact and work together to promote productive cooperation or competition.
IV. To adopt phased developing plans and respond to changing circumstances at each phase.
Following three intensive meetings, the committee produced a Founding Proposal following the foregoing principles in March 2004, and passed the review of the Council of Academia Sinica. With the final approval given by the President of Taiwan on 1st July in the same year, the Institutum Iurisprudentiae Preparatory Office came into existence, headed by Director and Research Professor Dennis TC Tang.
In the beginning, the Preparatory Office comprised seven research staff (three Research Professors, three Associate Research Professors, and one Assistant Research Professor) who were reassigned from other institutes at Academia Sinica, and went on to recruit research staff according to the fundamental principles of the Founding Proposal. Seven years from then, by early 2011, the Office had expanded its research staff to seventeen members (one Distinguished Research Professor, two Research Professors, six Associate Research Professors, and eight Assistant Research Professors), plus two joint appointment research staff co-affiliated with National Taiwan University (one Joint Appointment Research Professor and one Associate Joint Appointment Professor).
On 23rd April 2011, the Council of Academia Sinica approved of the proposal on the Preparatory Office’s transition to the full status of the Institute. As the proposal acquired its final approval from the President of Taiwan, President Chi-Huey Wong of Academia Sinica signed off the commencement of the Institutum Iurisprudentiae on 1st July 2011.
The Current Status of the Institute
Distinguished Research Professor Dennis TC Tang served as the Institute’s first Director following its commencement in July 2011, until September the same year as he was appointed as a Grand Justice of the Judicial Yuan. The office was then held temporarily by the Vice-President of Academia Sinica, Fan-sen Wang, until 17th January 2012, when former Grand Justice and Distinguished Research Professor Tzu-Yi Lin succeeded as the Institute’s second Director. Director Lin held the office until his retirement on 31st January 2019. Distinguished Research Professor Chien-Liang Lee, having served as the Institute’s first Deputy Director since 26th September 2014, succeeded as Director on 1st February 2019, while Research Professor Tze-Shiou Chien succeeded him as Deputy Director.
The Institute currently comprises nineteen full-time research staff (one Distinguished Research Professor, seven Research Professors, eight Associate Research Professors, two Assistant Research Professors, and one Research Scientist), three joint appointment research staff (three Join Appointment Research Professors), and one adjunct research staff member. The Institute will continue to recruit new talents to grow steadily and broaden its horizon, following Academia Sinica’s policy and funding,
The Institute aims to contribute to the country by building up new paradigms for legal studies, enhancing the development of the Rule of Law in Taiwan, and leading the country’s legal communities to achieve academic excellence at the international level. The Institute saw many a challenge during the early years of its founding. Having to take into account available resources and people and demands for research, the Institute selected six particular core research areas to begin with: (i) Constitutional Structure and Human Rights; (ii) Administrative Regulation and Judicial Remedies; (iii) Law, Science, and Technology; (iv) Jurisprudence and Social Transformation; (v) Legal Development in China, Hong Kong, and Macau; (iv) Comparative Study of Judicial Systems, Empirical Study of Judicial Behavior, and Legislative Studies. Research staff is organized into research groups and develop projects to research on emerging legal problems in their respective areas of expertise; they develop research proposals and plans of execution, convene regular national and international conferences, and publish in journals or monographs to showcase their works. With such strenuous efforts from our staff members over the years, the Institute has gained a foothold in the legal academia in Taiwan; it will continue to work to further attain a footing in the global legal academe.
For the future, the Institute will maintain the structure of its current research groups, enhance the core research teams and projects, and preserve its particular strengths and advantages. Moreover, it will seek to recruit new talents every year, liaise with other academic communities, increase and optimize productivity and creativity, and broaden core research areas, so that the Institute will realize in due course the Founding Proposal’s mid-term objective, viz. ‘to build up new paradigms and to develop strengths’, and long-term objective, viz. ‘to attain international recognition’.
Distinctions and Visions
As a national research institution, the Institutum Iurisprudentiae assumes no teaching duties and exhibits a different role from the law departments and graduate schools in universities across the country. As demonstrated in its current policy of six core research areas and the future development plans, the Institute’s primary duties lie in the training of leading legal academics, the deepening of the foundations for legal studies, and the exploration of emerging and unfamiliar areas of research. They show a different concern from the standard subjects taught at university and the latter’s close attention to knowledge and skills needed for state examinations (for the Bar and the judiciary) and practice. The central tenets of Academia Sinica Jurisprudence, in short, are to enhance the foundations of legal studies, lead the development of legal studies in Taiwan, improve the level of scholarly debates, and gain a footing in the international academic community. It is committed to four particular visions:
I. Eliminating bottlenecks in current legal studies in Taiwan
The Institute has been created to promote the study of law as an independent, fundamental science. In particular, it endeavors to eliminate the bottlenecks in the legal studies in the country. While there has been a rapid growth in the number of law departments and full-time faculty members across the country in recent years, legal education has been designed primarily as training of practitioners and thus oriented heavily towards preparation for state examinations, consequently curtailing the width and depth of the learning of law at university. This is the first bottleneck that the Institute seeks to eliminate.
Much of the legal studies in Taiwan has been conducted either as doctrinal study of domestic statutes, or as ‘comparative research’ which surveys foreign laws and commentaries, or under the influence of a ‘general theoretical’ or ‘conceptual’ approach. They neither develop thoughtful solutions based on the particular local needs, nor provide sufficiently complete understandings of foreign institutions to allow critical assessment of their particular strengths and weaknesses; they seldom probe in-depth individual sectors of law and their realities, leaving a huge gap between research and solution of practical problems. This is the second bottleneck to be addressed.
Current research of positive laws either amounts to an interpretation of abstract concepts or overlooks empirical investigation of the laws’ application and effect. Scant attention has been paid to the systematic study of judicial decisions, empirical investigation of the applicative outcome of laws, and evaluation of policymaking and its impact before legislation. That legal research lacks empirical study of local experiences and ignores the organic connections between law and society hinders the development of laws that can govern the society efficaciously. Such a major bottleneck ought to be removed.
Apart from the depth and width of research and attention to applicative results, it is also the Institute’s commitment to promoting cross-disciplinary integration between legal studies and other sciences, Taiwan’s legal academia’s exchange and connection with international legal academe, and the improvement of legal scholarship in Taiwan and its publicity overseas, as matters of the niche and footing of Taiwan’s legal studies.
II. Leading the creation of new paradigms in local legal studies
A pivotal role has jurisprudence played in the development of human civilization. In all countries with well-developed Rue of Law, jurisprudence is an important part of academic research and is held in high esteem. The rise of western jurisprudence can be traced back to ancient Rome; Justinian’s codification gave rise to widespread interests in the study of the Corpus Iuris Civilis. Influenced heavily by scholasticism, classic jurisprudence began as annotation—glossing—of juristic texts; over time, it led to a mechanical kind of legal hermeneutics toward positive laws. While there have been rival approaches such as teleology and interest theory in modern jurisprudence that bears a liberal character, plus stimulating interactions between Anglophone and Continental jurisprudence, much of legal research and interpretation still amount to a mechanical, formalistic operation, losing touch with social needs that call for appropriate legal responses. Taiwan’s reception of foreign laws makes it even more vulnerable to such a problem.
For the past century, jurisprudence has crossed from humanity into social sciences and thrived. The Rule of Law has prevailed worldwide as a cornerstone of the state. Jurisprudence is practical and normative. For law to succeed as an efficacious means of social governance, legal studies ought to observe acutely the interplay between local social phenomena and the law and appreciate the importance of investigating the law empirically. By combining scientific methods of legal research with rigorous systematic analysis, the Institute is committed itself to lead the creation of new paradigms in relevant areas of legal studies in Taiwan, enhance the systemized accumulation of juristic knowledge, and renew the inspirations for legal studies.
III. Fulfilling the social responsibilities for realizing the Rule of Law and promoting justice
As the nation underwent the period of mobilization against Communist rebellion and martial law, the ideal and dignity of the Rule of Law were seriously distorted and damaged under the authoritarian regime; today they still need recovering from the aftermath of the political atrocities. In its process of democratization, Taiwan has undergone colossal changes in such areas as constitutional structure, economic order, and welfare system; achievements in constitutionalism and Rule of Law, though still in progress, have been hard-won. All advanced legal cultures around the world recognize the importance of the development of the Rule of Law. In the face of rapid technological growth and ongoing social change, the Institute ought to figure out how to strengthen the general public’s commitment to the Rule of Law, realize the law’s role as social norms that promote justice, and accelerate Taiwan’s movement towards a mature, well-ordered society under the Rule of Law, by acting to deepen the foundations for legal studies and produce objective and rational juristic analyses. This is the Institute’s ineluctable duty owed to the society, as the nation’s premier research institution in law.
IV. Supporting Academia Sinica’s overall needs in its research development
There are three academic divisions within Academia Sinica: Humanities & Social Sciences Division; Mathematics & Physical Sciences Division, and Life Sciences Division. Generally speaking, the Mathematics & Physical Sciences Division and the Life Sciences Division have each fostered their distinctive strengths and developed into a sustainable scale and shape. In comparison, institutes and centers within the Humanities & Social Sciences Division still need adjust their structure and functional role. The Institutum Iurisprudentiae exists not only to allow the flourishing of jurisprudence as an independent discipline to support the nation’s development of the Rule of Law in the long run but also to undertake meaningful interactions with all disciplines of social sciences within Academia Sinica to complement each other and to facilitate reasonable and efficient distribution of resources among such disciplines. Moreover, there are all sorts of legal, regulatory problems that inevitably arise from scientific research or experiments. The conflict of interests in particular has been a recurring problem facing institutes or centers of applied science which are involved in the transfer of biomedical technology. Since its founding, the Institute has included as part of its developing plans technology and law and empirical research, and recruited specialists to focus their work on interdisciplinarity, empirical analysis, and legal issues that cross into multiple disciplines. It has also founded the Center for Empirical Legal Studies and the Information Law Center, to foster connections and strengthen the operation. In the future, the Institute will continue to recruit legal researchers with scientific-technological expertise, respond meaningfully to technology’s challenge to the law, and support Academia Sinica’s overall needs in its research development, to steer the visionary development in the integration and convergence between natural science and spiritual science.