The Ministry of Justice issued the Fa-Zhi-10602501360 Circular of January 24, 2017 (hereinafter, the “Circular”) to communicate that the statute of limitation for a claim should be set by law, not by legal order.
This Circular was issued by the Ministry of Justice to provide its legal consultation opinion on the legal appropriateness of the Rules of Taichung City on Rewarding Informants for Reporting Cases Involving Violations of the Water Pollution Control Law (hereinafter, the “Rules”).
The Circular first pointed out that under the administrative law principle that “there shall be no inappropriate connections” means that in case of any specific administrative law obligation or burden imposed on the people or other resultant disadvantages to the people, there should be reasonable connections between the means taken and the objectives pursued by an administrative agency. If such connection is lacking, this will be legally inappropriate. According to the Circular, the Rules, which provide that if an informant has previously submitted a report three times with no specific fact subsequently verified, the Environmental Protection Department may “refuse to accept” any further report within six months after the third report was filed, seem to elect to infer the fourth report by the informant may be declined. Such inference lacks factual basis, not to mention that it is necessary to further consider if there is any reasonable connection between the means taken and the objectives pursued and if the principle of proportionality is satisfied.
It was further pointed out in the Circular that the statute-of-limitation system seeks to respect existing factual status and maintain the stability of law and order, is related to public interest and has significant connections with the rights and obligations of the people. Therefore, the statute of limitation, both under public law or private law, should be specifically stipulated by law and should not be set by the order of an administrative agency by way of authorization in order to fulfill the objectives of the principle of legal reservation under Article 23 of the Constitution. Since the Water Pollution Control Law, which is the enabling law of the Rules, is silent concerning the public law statute of limitation for receiving the rewards, the statute of limitation shall be ten years under Article 131, Paragraph 1 of the Administrative Procedure Law. However, the Rules provide that if a reward is not collected by the informant within three months following the notification by the Environmental Protection Department, the reward shall be deemed relinquished. This is equivalent to a statute of limitation. Since a legal restriction not stipulated by law is added by way of “regulation or order” rather than “law” to stipulate the statute of limitation for public law claims, this violates the principle of legal reservation. Therefore, it was recommended that this requirement be modified.