The Supreme Court rendered the Tai-Shang-1141 Civil Decision of October 24, 2018 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that ancestral worship associations are traditionally established by two different methods, namely, inheritance split arrangements and contractual arrangements; and the court should clarify the method by which an ancestral worship association is established and should properly exercise its elucidation right, or the litigation procedure would be materially defective.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Appellee asserted as follows. The land at issue was owned by the two ancestral worship associations at issue (hereinafter, the “Appellants”), and the Appellee has membership right over the two ancestral worship associations at issue. Therefore, the Appellee brought suit to declare the existence of the membership right. The original trial court ruled in favor of the Appellee. Dissatisfied, the Appellants appealed.
According to the Decision, an ancestral worship association is set up for the purpose of worshipping ancestors. It is traditionally established by two methods, namely, inheritance split arrangements and contractual arrangements. The former pertains to establishment based on a portion of an estate which is set aside when the heritage or family assets are being split, while the latter involves establishment based on private property contributed by descendants who have long split the ancestral assets and lived separately, in which case contractual arrangements executed by the contributors are required.
It was further pointed out in this case that the two parties have different assertions concerning how the two associations at issue were established. Therefore, the methods by which the two ancestral worship associations were established were not clear and remained to be clarified. The original trial court failed to ascertain the nature of the establishment of the two ancestral worship associations at issue, instruct both parties as to which founders and founding methods of the two ancestral worship associations at issue would be listed as contending issues and ask the parties to provide evidence and engage in sufficient debate before making a determination and rendering a decision unfavorable to the two ancestral worship associations at issue. Since the decision was rash, the original decision was reversed and remanded.