An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Bo'an huibian 駁案彙編

Mar 22, 2021 © Ulrich Theobald

Bo'an huibian 駁案彙編 "Collection of disputed verdicts" is a corpus of lawsuits with unfair verdicts to be rescinded or amended. It was compiled by Zhu Meichen 朱梅臣 xxx and published during the Qianlong reign-period 乾隆 (1736-1795) of the Qing era 清 (1644-1911), but later enlarged. The whole collection consists of three parts, Bo'an xinbian 駁案新編 (32 juan, 1781), Bo'an xubian 駁案續編 (7 juan, 1883), and an appendix called Qiu'an bizhao hui'an 秋案比照彙案 "Comparative collection of cases from the autumn assizes" (also called Qiushen shihuan bijiao hui'an 秋審實緩比較彙案, 2 juan, 1877?).

The collection is one of the most important sources for the study of the history of jurisdiction in late imperial China. The Bo'an xinbian covers cases from the beginning of the Qianlong reign-period until the date of publication. It was compiled under the supervision of high officials of the Ministry of Justice (xingbu 刑部), namely Quan Shichao 全士潮 xxx, Zhang Daoyuan 張道源, Li Dahan李大瀚, Huai Qian 懷謙, Zhou Yuanliang 周元良 and Jin Dexing 金德興. Several of them were members of the Codification Office (lüliguan 律例館). The intention of the collection was to present cases of verdicts that were amended, in order to bring fairness and justice into the legal system. Almost ninety percent of the cases described in the Bo'an collections therefore are disputed verdicts.

The supplement Xubian and the short appendix Qiu'an were compiled by Sang Chunrong 桑春榮 xxx in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Bo'an huibian belongs to a type of documentary collections called xing’an huibian 刑案彙編 "collections of law cases". These were compiled in order to promulgate empire-wide standards for jurisdiction. While laws ( 律) did only cover a small amount of possible cases, they were enriched by so-called precedent cases (li 例) that were solved in analogy to laws and served as examplarious cases. Unfortunately, district magistrates pronounced different verdicts for similar cases throughout the empire, so that judicature turned out to be haphazardly. Collections of concrete cases (an 案) helped to amend this problem. Publications of verdicts mushroomed during the Qing period and were widely distributed on local book markets. They served as guidelines for district judges to diminish the possibility of appeal from first instance. Another widespread collection is Xing'an huilan 刑案匯覽 and its supplements.

The whole collection Bo'an huibian is to be found in the series Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書.