The Taipei High Administrative Court rendered Decision No.107-Pan-390 on July 12, 2018 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that in cases of unjust enrichment under public law, if there is no specific requirement for interest accrual or relevant interest accrual requirements applied mutatis mutandis thereto for the return obligation under public law, it is not necessary that interest will accrue.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Defendant found, as a result of its investigation, the Plaintiff had imported lard for animal feeds from companies in Vietnam beginning on January 11, 2012 for production of edible oils for sale. Since this violated Article 15, Paragraph 1, Subparagraphs 7 and 9 of the Food Safety and Sanitation Law, a fine of NT$50 million was imposed via the original disposition. Dissatisfied, the Plaintiff brought an administrative action through applicable procedures but had paid the fine on November 13, 2014. The original decision subsequently set aside the portion of the original disposition concerning the fine and ordered the Defendant to refund NT$50 million to the Defendant plus interest calculated by the demand deposit rate quoted by the Bank of Taiwan for the period between November 13, 2014 and the repayment of the sum. Dissatisfied, the Defendant appealed.
According to the Decision, a public-law revenue of the state is basically used for public interest, not for profit, and is different by nature from private-law benefits. In addition, unjust enrichment under public law consists of general public-law unjust enrichment and special public-law unjust enrichment. Except for special public-law unjust enrichment pursuant to law or any order issued with specific legal authorization where interest accrual is stipulated or relevant requirements for interest accrual are applied mutatis mutandis, the state does not receive any interest benefit from an ordinary unjust enrichment matter under public law. Therefore, there is no need or actual benefit to apply, by analogy, Articles 181 and Article 182, Paragraph 2 of the Civil Code concerning the requirement for interest accrual upon return of unjust enrichment which has been obtained and should be returned.
It was further pointed out in this Decision that the Plaintiff had brought a revocation action and sought, based on a legal relationship of unjust enrichment under public law, to compel the Defendant to refund the NT$50 million fine which had been paid by the Defendant pursuant to Article 8, Paragraph 2 of the Administrative Litigation Law. Since this was not a claim concerning special public-law unjust enrichment specifically stipulated by law, the request for the accrual of interest calculated by the demand deposit rate quoted by the Bank of Taiwan for the period between November 13, 2014 and the date of repayment was groundless. Failing to take this into consideration, the original decision electing to approve the request was certainly unlawful for erroneous application of applicable laws and regulations. Therefore, this portion of the original decision was reversed and remanded.