The Supreme Court rendered the 107-Tai-Shang-2302 Decision of May 15, 2019 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that if a national compensation claimant may obtain property rights from other people to compensate the damage suffered during the performance of public duty by a civil servant, such property rights which may be obtained for the sake of compensation should be deducted to calculate the actual damage so sustained.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the five Appellees previously purchased a land and the building on the land in New Taipei City from the previous owner. When conducting cadastral resurvey in 1993, Appellant National Land Surveying and Mapping Center failed to conduct the survey based on the boundaries of the land owners, resulting in deviated cadastral lines and resurvey errors. Consequently, the Appellees sustained losses from excessive payment to the previous owner. The Appellees claim damages from the National Land Surveying and Mapping Center in accordance with Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the National Compensation Law.
According to this Decision, when a government agency illegally violates the freedom or rights of the people out of willfulness or negligence when the civil servants of the national agency perform their duties to carry out government authority, it shall be liable for damages to secure the freedom and rights of the people. However, under the principle that “there is compensation only when there is damage,” the actual damage sustained by the claimant should serve as the basis of compensation. In case a claimant incurs any damage due to the government authority exercised by civil servants in performing their duties, if the damage can be compensated by property rights obtained from another person, the property rights which may be used for compensation should be deducted in order to calculate the actual damage. After the national agency pays the compensation pursuant to applicable requirements, compensation cannot be sought from other people any further. Therefore, it is certainly inappropriate and unfair to directly conclude the amount of the actual damage sustained by the claimant and release the liability of such other people who should have been liable for the compensation without deducting the property rights that the claimant may obtain from another person to compensate the damage.
It was further pointed out in this Decision that if the Appellees may seek compensation or a return of their payment from the previous owner, the property rights that may be obtained should be deducted to calculate the amount of their actual damage. Failing to take this into account, the original trial court did not consider the legal relationship between the damages liability of the National Land Surveying and Mapping Center and the liability of the previous owner to return the overpayment to the Appellees in its calculation of the damages before rendering a decision unfavorable to the National Land Surveying and Mapping Center. Since the original trial court was rash, the gist of appeal concerning Appellant National Land Surveying and Mapping Center was upheld and the original decision was reversed and remanded to the Taiwan High Court.