The notion of justice appears in many different contexts, and is used to convey a wide variety of meanings. This column explores the terminology used to refer to the notion of justice in English and Chinese and its origins and meaning in Western jurisdictions and China.

The English word, justice, has its origins in the Latin word jutus (or iustus), meaning just, equitable or fair. The root of the Latin word is jus (or ius), which was the term used in ancient Rome to refer to a right to which a citizen was entitled as a result of citizenship. Because the law was the source of such rights, the term jus also came to mean the law, the courts in which rights were protected, and the broader administration of the legal system.

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I am grateful to my friend and colleague, Dr Delia Lin, for her helpful comments on the distinction between zhengyi [正义] and gongyi [公义], and also for sharing her insightful research on the Chinese notion of justice.

葛安德 Andrew Godwin

A former partner of Linklaters Shanghai, Andrew Godwin teaches law at Melbourne Law School in Australia, where he is an associate director of its Asian Law Centre. Andrew’s new book is a compilation of China Business Law Journal’s popular Lexicon series, entitled China Lexicon: Defining and translating legal terms. The book is published by Vantage Asia and available at www.vantageasia.com