The Supreme Administrative Court rendered the 106-Pan-358 Decision of July 13, 2017 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that it is not appropriate to apply an excessively stringent determination standard to the substantiation by the expropriation agency to prove the legality of the relevant expropriation procedures for an act of expropriation conducted a long time ago so to prevent public interest from being impaired by an excessive determination that renders an expropriation invalid or ineffective.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, Taipei City Government’s expropriation disposition was approved by the Executive Yuan. Therefore, Taipei City Government announced the expropriation and notified the land owners to handle the land value compensation formalities. The portion of the land value compensation not collected by the owner of the land at issue within the required period was deposited. Later, the Plaintiff acquired the ownership of the land at issue through purchase and asserted that the expropriation procedure for the land at issue had lapsed on the ground that Taipei City Government had failed to pay the compensation to the original land owner pursuant to law. The Ministry of the Interior subsequently determined that the expropriation procedure at issue was not invalid or ineffective with the finding forwarded to the Plaintiff by Taiwan City Government. Dissatisfied, the Plaintiff filed this declaratory suit to confirm that the legal expropriation relationship of the land at issue did not exist. After the original trial court rendered a decision against the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff appealed.
It was first indicated by this Decision that when the land agency in a municipality under the direct jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan or a county (city) has served a legal notice on a person eligible for compensation to collect payment, if the compensation cannot be paid because the recipient of the compensation refuses to or cannot receive the compensation or his/her whereabouts are unknown, the approval of the land expropriation project does not become invalid as a result even if the compensation is not deposited. It was further pointed out in this Decision that the expropriation procedure in this case lasted as long as 40 years with most of the materials for the expropriation destroyed due to expiration of their retention periods or lost due to retention difficulties. In addition, it was also difficult to summon the personnel handling the expropriation at that time to testify. Therefore, it is necessary to balance “public interest” and the “special sacrifices of the people subject to the expropriation” with respect to such act of expropriation which took place a long time ago, and the expropriation agency’s substantiation concerning facts to be verified such as the legality of the relevant expropriation procedures and the manner of compensation should not be subject to an excessively stringent standard in order to prevent public interest from being impaired by an excessive determination that renders the expropriation invalid or ineffective.
It was further indicated in the Decision that the address of the owner of the land at issue as indicated in the list of compensation was correct. Even if there was a slight clerical error about the name of the owner, still the true owner could still understand that Taipei City Government sent a notice for collecting the compensation, and the recipient of the notice could still be identified even with a slight clerical error about the name. In addition, such determination did not violate experiential and logical rules. Based on foregoing reasons, it was concluded in the Decision that the original decision, which had determined that the expropriation in this case was not invalid or ineffective, was not erroneous. Therefore, the Plaintiff’s appeal was rejected.