Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal

UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal bannerUCLA


PBLJ focuses on a diverse range of legal and policy issues as they affect the rapidly developing economies of the Pacific Rim. Throughout its history, the journal has featured articles written by leading scholars and practitioners on topics including human rights law, constitutional law, comparative law, criminal law, international trade law, business and corporate law, and intellectual property law.

Volume 35, Issue 2, 2018

UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal


Platform Economy in Legal Profession: An Empirical Study of Online Legal Service Providers in China

Platform economy breaks into the legal profession by pooling lawyers with different specializations into a simple user-friendly platform, consolidating the lower-tier supply side of the legal market and generating an economy of scale. This paper is the very first empirical piece looking into China’s online legal service portals. It shows that the intermediary functions of the portals as the “matchmaker” between the supply and the demand side are often comingled with certain substantive legal services that cannot be easily unbundled from each other. Given the grand information asymmetry in legal service provision and the potential importance users may attach to the portals’ recommendations, the quality of such intermediation and matchmaking still leaves much to be desired. However, the portals do help to improve the access to justice in China by virtue of offering an extra channel for acquiring and comparing potentially useful information, which is made available at a much lower cost than visiting a physical law firm. Thus, the regulators of China’s legal profession should strive to improve the quality of, rather than block up the source of the information. To that end, this paper proposes, based on the inspiration of the ABS regime, an alternative license for these online legal service providers, which imposes minimal regulation and leaves room for new innovative business structures to evolve.

Chinese Legal Thought in the Han-Tang Transition

This article explores and analyzes the fourth century Chinese legal official and legal scholar Liu Song’s (d. 300) theory of adjudication through a full translation into English (the first translation of its kind) of his famous “Memorial on Adjudication,” which urged judicial and legal reforms during the reign of Emperor Hui (r. 290–306) of the Western Jin dynasty (265–316). This article argues that Liu believed that written law should reign supreme over other factors (e.g., societal needs, public opinion) in adjudicating cases. He was also one of the first major Chinese legal thinkers to explicitly set forth what we would today call the “legality principle.”  But while Liu’s theory of adjudication was centered on written law, it was also motivated by a desire to control the power and discretion of judicial officials and preserve the authority of the emperor. Liu’s theory of adjudication is significant in the history of Chinese legal thought as it runs counter to the so-called “qing-li-fa” (QLF) theory of adjudication, which has strongly influenced contemporary theoretical accounts and descriptions of traditional Chinese law as a whole. This article also briefly considers Liu’s theory in a comparative legal theory perspective, arguing that Liu’s theory is different from key Western theories on adjudication—namely, Hart’s and Dworkin’s theories of adjudication with respect to hard cases. Finally, this article also briefly discusses the relevance of Liu Song’s legal thought to 21st century Chinese law, given the current Chinese leadership’s penchant for using traditional Chinese political and legal philosophy as sources and justifications for government and administration. This article suggests that Liu Song is a figure whose legal thought could be equally palatable to rule of law reformers and more conservative party officials in China today.

Smoke 'em If You Got 'em: Discussing the WTO Dispute Settlement Panel's Decision to Uphold Plain Packaging in Australia and its Impact on the Future

This Paper discusses the landmark decision by the WTO Dispute Resolution Panel that the Australian Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (“TPPA”) is consistent with its obligations under the TBT Agreement, the TRIPS Agreement, and the GATT, all of which are WTO Agreements.

It argues that Indonesia’s claim that the TPPA is discriminatory and contrary to its obligation of national treatment is unfounded. The Paper presents evidence of the health risks involved with tobacco use, and discusses why the TPPA falls under an exception to its obligations to the cited WTO Agreements.

Further, this Paper contends that the decision could lead to strict plain packaging regulations for other products in the future. However, tobacco has unique and significant health risks, and by comparing it to several products, the Paper explains why it is unlikely that these products will be subject to similar stringent packaging regulations in the future.