The Taiwan High Court rendered the 108-Shang-Guo-Geng-One-2 Decision of December 11, 2019 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that if civil servants willfully or negligently violate the freedom or rights of the people in the performance of their duties and the exercise of government authority with actual damage to the parties, the state shall be liable for compensation, and the compensation liability of the state is preconditioned by actual damage to the parties.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Appellants previously purchased Lot Nos. 180 and 192 and shares of adjacent lands and buildings on such lands from 2001 through 2007. However, a land office notified them in 2013 that the areas of Lot Nos. 180 and 192 should be changed, and then the Appellants suddenly realized that the Appellee had made mistakes in the cadastral resurvey in 1993. As a result, the areas of Lot Nos. 180 and 192 determined by the land office based on the results of the resurvey are greater than their actual areas by 18.22 square meters and 20.05 square meters, respectively. In this case, the Appellants made higher land payments based on “land areas” which are greater than the actual areas when purchasing the buildings and lands from the previous owners as a result of the mistakes in the Appellee’s cadastral resurvey. Therefore, the Appellee should assume the damages liability for the losses suffered by the Appellants from overpaid land prices pursuant to the first part of Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the National Compensation Law. Therefore, the Appellant requested the Appellee to assume the damages liability.
According to the Decision, Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the National Compensation Law provides that when civil servants willfully or negligently violate the freedom or rights of the people during their performance of duties or exercise of government authority, the state shall be liable for damages. In addition, the national compensation liability mentioned above should be preconditioned by the actual damage sustained by the Appellants.
It was further pointed out in this Decision that the Appellants, in this case, asserted that the Appellee’s mistakes in the cadastral resurvey in 1993 resulted in erroneous registration of greater than actual areas of Lot Nos. 180 and 192 by the land office based on the results of the resurvey before correct areas were registered in 2013 and that the Appellants respectively purchased buildings and lands including shares of Lot Nos. 180 and 192 after the cadastral resurvey and the land area corrections in 2013. The Appellants asserted overpaid land prices on the ground that the land areas during the purchase of lands and buildings from the previous owners had been included in the price calculation. However, the Appellee contended that property transactions in the market are negotiated based on the “areas of buildings,” and that registered land areas do not affect transaction prices. If the Appellee’s contention is true, meaning that the Appellants did not consider the registered land areas in their pricing considerations when agreeing with the previous owners on the purchase prices, the Appellants did not sustain any loss from overpaid land prices. Therefore, if the Appellants’ assertion that the land payments to the previous owners were based on land areas is true, the areas of the shares of the lands as transferred by the original sellers are not comparable to the land payments they received. Therefore, the Appellee’s contention that the Appellants may request the previous owners to return the excess of the payment based on the legal relationship of unjust enrichment is not groundless. Therefore, the Appellant’s claim for national compensation from the Appellee is groundless and should not be granted.