The Judicial Yuan rendered the Shih-Zi 772 Interpretation of December 28, 2018 (hereinafter, the “Interpretation”), pointing out that if citizens are dissatisfied with a rejection decision of the National Property Administration on their application filed in accordance with the Article 52-2 of the National Property Law for the transfer or purchase of real estate which is state-owned but not for public use, they should seek a remedy through administrative action, which should be heard by an administrative court.
Article 52-2 of the National Property Law provides: “The direct user of non-public use real estate which has been used for buildings and residence since December 31, 1946 until now may apply to the National Property Administration or any of its affiliated agencies for the transfer or purchase thereof before January 13, 2015 by submitting relevant supporting documents. In case an approval is obtained, if the area of the land does not exceed 500 square meters, the value of the land may be assessed based on the government assessed land value” (hereinafter, the “Requirement at Issue”). However, the Requirement at Issue is silent on the jurisdiction over disputes arising from such decisions. Therefore, the Grand Justices determined the jurisdiction based on the nature of the disputes pursuant to the Shi-Zi 466, Shi-Zi 691, Shi-Zi 695, Shi-Zi 758 and Shi-Zi 759 interpretations of the Judicial Yuan.
It was first pointed out in this Interpretation that the legislative objective of the Requirement at Issue was to address the occupation of national property by many citizens whose lands in which they have resided for many generations have been registered as state-owned due to their unfamiliarity with law for a lack of information at the time when the government conducted general registration of lands. The Requirement at Issue was imposed to address such issue facing the citizens so that they may apply for the transfer or purchase of the lands in which they have resided for a long time and which have been registered as state-owned lands. The Requirement at Issue, which allows the people to apply to the state for the transfer or purchase of lands which have been registered as state-owned lands, is very clearly policy-oriented. The National Property Administration’s review to determine if the Requirement at Issue is met to render an approval or rejection decision is an exercise of government authority. In addition, the parties to an application for the purchase of national lands are essentially the government and a general citizen, and the relationship between general citizens cannot possibly become a subject of rights and obligations under such legal relationship. Moreover, if an applicant and the real estate for which a purchase application is made both comply with relevant requirements, the application should be granted by the competent authority, and the transfer price should be determined by a valuation method stipulated by law. The principle of freedom of contract under private law does not apply. The above arguments show that a rejection decision of the National Property Administration pursuant to the Requirement at Issue is a unilateral administrative act which has direct legal effect to external parties. Since it is an administrative disposition, not an act of the national treasury, it has public law characteristics.
In conclusion, a rejection decision rendered by the National Property Administration or any of its affiliated agencies on a citizen’s application for the transfer or purchase of state-owned real estate which is not for public use has public law characteristics. If dissatisfied, the citizen should seek an administrative remedy by bringing administrative action pursuant to the laws, and the administrative action shall be heard by an administrative court.