The Taipei High Administrative Court rendered the 105-Su-1916 Ruling of April 18, 2017 (hereinafter, the “Ruling”), holding that a third party informing against the Plaintiff for violation of the Fair Trade Law is not a legally interested party under the theory of protective norms and may not request to intervene in a lawsuit.
According to the facts underlying the Ruling, the Movant was a cable television system operator which had commenced operation in May 2015, while the Plaintiff was a channel agent. Upon information from the Movant, the Defendant (i.e., Fair Trade Commission) investigated and concluded that the Plaintiff’s licensing of channels for which the Plaintiff served as an agent in 2016 involved different trading terms to the Movant and other competitors. Since the discriminatory treatment was not justified and could be potentially anti-competitive, the Plaintiff was held to have violated Article 20, Subparagraph 2 of the Fair Trade Law and was fined NT$40 million and ordered to rectify such illegal act within one month upon receipt of the disposition. Dissatisfied, the Plaintiff brought this administrative action. The Movant asserted that its channel licensing terms for 2016 and 2017 were currently mediated by the National Communications Commission with an agreement still pending, the outcome of this case would directly affect the trading terms of both parties. Therefore, the Movant believed that since there was a relationship of interest, it motioned for independent or auxiliary intervention in this lawsuit.
It was pointed out in the Ruling first that a third party informing against the Plaintiff for violation of the Fair Trade Law should be regarded as an “informant,” not a legally interested party under the theory of protective norms. Although the Movant in this case was an informant and asserted that its trading terms would be affected, this merely pertained to economic or other factual benefits, and the Movant still had the freedom of deciding whether to contract with the Plaintiff. The Movant could not assert that the outcome of this lawsuit would directly undermine the Movant’s rights or legal interest. The Movant’s motion to intervene in this lawsuit was rejected on such basis.