The Taipei High Administrative Court rendered the 104-Su-1846 Administrative Decision of March 30, 2016 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that whether expropriation application is needed should be decided by land users, and ordinary citizens do not have a public law right to request the land user to apply to the state to expropriate their lands.
According to the facts underlying the Decision, the Plaintiff asserted that 12 parcels of land (including the Plaintiff’s lands at issue), which are located in the river area of Hsintien River, were the only lands left out by the Water Resources Agency of the Ministry of Economic Affairs when it expropriated all private lands within such river area for its river regulation project. On February 9, 2015, the Plaintiff applied to the 10th River Bureau (the Defendant) of the Water Resources Agency for the expropriation of the above 12 parcels of land. The Water Resources Agency subsequently issued a letter to instruct the Defendant to properly deal with this matter and provide a response to the Plaintiff. In the absence of a response, the Plaintiff filed administrative appeal on the ground that the Water Resources Agency and the Defendant had been negligent in dealing with this matter. During the administrative appeal, the Defendant issued to the Defendant the letter at issue, which is excerpted as follows: “Currently, the Bureau has no plan to conduct relevant river regulation projects there. Therefore, we cannot expropriate the lands you mentioned. Should any river regulation need arise in the future, we will certainly expropriate the lands.” Dissatisfied with the letter at issue after a decision was rendered not to accept the administrative appeal, the Plaintiff brought this administrative action.
According to the Decision, except as otherwise stipulated by law, the legal relationship of land expropriation is merely a bilateral relationship between the land user and the state in the issuance of an expropriation letter and between the state and the expropriated party in terms of expropriation compensation. There is no legal relationship whatsoever between the land user and the owner. To wit, a land user who believes there is a need to expropriate private lands due to public utility business is required to apply to the Ministry of the Interior by submitting relevant documents pursuant to the statutory procedure. Whether expropriation application is needed should be decided by a land user. Ordinary citizens do not have a public law right to request the land user to apply to the state to expropriate their lands. Therefore, under normal circumstances, an expropriation procedure is only initiated by the state. Except as otherwise stipulated by law (such as Article 8 of the Land Expropriation Statute), ordinary citizens do not have a public law right to request the state to expropriate their lands or to request a land user to apply for the expropriation. Their request to a land user to apply for expropriation is not a pubic law right in nature.
It was further held that since the Plaintiff’s application to the Defendant for the expropriation of the lands at issue is merely a right to urge the land user to apply for the expropriation and is not a public law right, the Defendant has no statutory obligation to act according to the Plaintiff’s request and the Plaintiff’s complaint was rejected.