The Supreme Administrative Law rendered the 106-Cai-1672 Ruling of August 31, 2017 (hereinafter, the “Ruling”), holding that the one whose legal rights or interests would directly or indirectly suffer from the result of a lawsuit may intervene in the lawsuit on an auxiliary basis pursuant to law.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Interlocutory Appellant was a cable television system operator launched in May 2015, while the Plaintiff was a channel agent. When the Interlocutory Appellant and the Plaintiff entered into the 2016 Channel Licensing Agreement, the Plaintiff’s position was to maintain the trading terms for 2014 when 15% of the total number of administrative households served as the basis for pricing the number of subscribers, while a discount was offered to other existing cable television system operators based on the actual number of subscribers. The Interlocutory Appellant reported this matter to the Defendant, who concluded as a result of its investigation that the different trading terms offered by the Plaintiff to competitors including the Interlocutory Appellant under the Plaintiff’s 2016 license for the channels for which it served as an agent were unjustified discriminatory treatments and could potentially restrict competition. Therefore, the Defendant rendered the original disposition, which imposed a fine of NT$40 million on the Plaintiff and demanded the Plaintiff to rectify. The Plaintiff brought administrative action pursuant to applicable procedures, and the Interlocutory Appellant motioned for independent or auxiliary intervention in this lawsuit pursuant to Article 42, Paragraph 1 and Article 44 of the Administrative Litigation Law. After the original ruling was rendered to reject the motion, the Interlocutory Appellant filed this appeal out of dissatisfaction.
According to the Ruling, an informant reporting a third party’s violation of Articles 19, 22 and 24 of the Fair Trade Law to the Defendant in accordance with Article 26 of the same law has no application right concerning the administrative disposition which should be rendered and the required details of such administrative disposition. Even if the reported party brings administrative action to set aside such unfavorable administrative disposition to restore the state before the report was accepted, the rights or legal interest of the informant still will not be impaired directly. Therefore, no motion may be filed for independent intervention in the lawsuit in accordance with Article 42, Paragraph 1 of the Administrative Litigation Law on such basis.
However, the Ruling further pointed out that under Article 44 of the Administrative Litigation Law, which provides: “If an administrative court deems it necessary for any other administrative agency to assist one of the parties, such agency may be ordered to intervene in the lawsuit. The administrative agencies set forth in the preceding paragraph or an interested third party may also file a motion to intervene,” such auxiliary intervention is not preconditioned by direct damage to the right or legal interest of the intevenor as a result of the cancellation lawsuit and the existence of legal interest will suffice. This means that the legal status of a third party will be directly or indirectly impaired according to the contents of a decision rendered against one of the parties, including the court’s determination of the objects of litigation and the determination of whether certain facts or legal relationship exists in the reasons of decision, and will not be impaired if such party prevails. This is not limited to public law interest. To wit, this also includes private law interest relationship.
Therefore, it was held in this Ruling that since the channel royalty terms for 2016 and 2017 between the Interlocutory Appellant and the Plaintiff were currently being mediated by the National Communications Commission and a contract was not yet executed, the results of the trial of this case would directly affect trading terms between the Interlocutory Appellant and the Plaintiff such as the pricing method for the royalties for 2016 and 2017. However, if the original disposition was set aside as a result of the cancellation lawsuit, the mediation results of the 2016 and 2017 channel royalties between the Interlocutory Appellant and the Plaintiff would certainly be affected. Therefore, their rights or legal interest could be indirectly affected. Therefore, the motion filed by the Interlocutory Appellant in accordance with Article 44 of the Administrative Litigation law to intervene in this lawsuit on an auxiliary basis was not legally inappropriate. Therefore, this portion of the original ruling was reversed and remanded to the original court for another ruling.