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Unless otherwise specified, the descriptions of sources in this section are extracted from Pierre-Etienne Will and collaborators,Official Handbooks and Anthologies of Imperial China: A Descriptive and Critical Bibliography (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).
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TitleCheng’an beikao 成案備考 [Reference Materials on Leading Cases]
Short titleB3853300 (10)
Topic2.1 Judicial cases: general casebooks
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
Publication typeWoodblock

A detailed presentation of 36 cases covering the years 1805-07. Shen says in his pref. that he served in the Ministry of Justice and in Hubei and Fujian for nearly 30 years. After he was dismissed in 1805 he started collecting leading cases more systematically than before. He stresses the importance of collecting leading cases as material for using analogy (以資比較) where no statutes or substatutes are directly applicable. He stresses the usefulness of those he has collected, not only as models for future judgments since they were approved, but also because of the legal reasoning that informed the preliminary discussions. He specifies that these are cases that have not been circulated (通行) and therefore cannot be cited in judgments without the ministry’s special approval: this is why they are called “reference materials” (beikao). There is a mulu for each of the three years 1805, 1806, and 1807, providing a quite detailed characterization of each case and indicating the statute or substatute used as a basis for judgment. Each entry consists of a full quotation of the final memorial of the Ministry of Justice, sometimes as long as 20 folios, thus far more detailed than the summary case records in the anonymous work bearing the same title (q.v.), with which the present one should not be confused. The cases concern disputes, adultery, rape, theft, wrong accusations, homicides, suicides, and more. The pedagogical intent of this carefully realized publication is obvious.

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