HOME ISSUES ABOUT SUBMISSIONS ORDER CONTACT
Home / Issues / Volume 5, Number 1 (Fall 2012) / Regulatory Regimes for Lawyers Ethcs in Japan and China
VOLUME 5, NUMBER 1 (FALL 2012)
Regulatory Regimes for Lawyers Ethcs in Japan and China:
A Comparative Study

By Richard WU and Kay Wah CHAN | Article | 5 Tsinghua China L. Rev. 49 (2012) | Download Full Article PDF

Abstract

China and Japan are the two largest economies in Asia, and both countries are similar in their adoption of a civil law system. This article undertakes a comparative study of the regulatory frameworks for lawyers’ ethics in the two countries. This article first considers the development of legal profession, particularly their rapid growth in the past decade. It then analyses and compares the regulatory regimes on lawyers’ ethics in both countries, with reference to six ‘professional virtues’ of competence, independence, loyalty, confidentiality, responsibility and honourable conduct. It reveals that Japan adopts a model of self-regulation, while China implements a ‘hybrid’ mode, namely, both state and self-regulation. It also argues that China is improving in its growing recognition of such virtues as ‘competence’, and that it has room for improvement in such virtues as ‘independence’, ‘confidentiality’ and ‘honourable conduct.’


I. Introduction

China and Japan are two of the largest economies in Northeast Asia. China and Japan share similar culture roots. Both countries are heavily influenced by Confucianism, which has lasting impact on their public perception of moral and ethical standards. Moreover, both countries have witnessed radical changes in their political, economic and social systems from the demise of the feudalism to today. They are now the second and third largest economies in the world, respectively.

In comparison with many Western economies such as the United States, the legal systems and legal professions in China and Japan have short histories. Unlike the United States, which implements a common law system, both China and Japan adopt a civil law system. Japan only introduced the modern legal profession in the 19th Century during the Meiji Era when it undertook radical reforms in its political, economic and legal systems. The lawyer system was modified in the post-World War II period. As a result, supervision and disciplinary power and authority were taken away from the government and the legal profession gained self-regulatory rights.

In China, the legal profession did not develop until the late 1970s when the country adopted the Open Door Policy. Lawyers in China are regulated by the state, and the Ministry of Justice is the government department responsible for their supervision. In 1986, China established the All China Lawyer Association, which marked a milestone development of self-regulation for the legal profession. At present, China practices a ‘hybrid’ model of regulation, namely, state-regulation supplemented by self-regulation.

In the past, there was a paucity of lawyers in Japan and China but both countries have witnessed a substantial increase in the number of lawyers in recent years. This article attempts to undertake a comparative study of the regulatory regimes for lawyers’ ethics in Japan and China. The article first considers the development of the legal profession in the two countries, particularly their rapid growth in the past decade. It then analyses and compares the regulatory regimes for lawyers in both countries, with reference to the six ‘professional virtues’ as identified by Hazard and Dondi as the framework for comparison. It concludes with a summary of the development of the legal profession and comparison of the regulatory regimes in Japan and China.
 
Download Full Article PDF
Copyright © 1999-2016 Tsinghua China Law Review. All Rights Reserved.