The Supreme Court rendered the 108-Tai-Shang-778 Decision of August 7, 2019 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that if the acts of tort engaged by a perpetrator are continuous to the extent that the consequences of victimization are continuous and mutually independent and distinguishable, the beginning of the period of extinctive prescription shall be separately determined based on the victim’s knowledge.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, Appellant A and Appellant B were the judges for the selection of conductors for a specific orchestra, while the Appellee was the acting concertmaster of the orchestra. The three individuals gave malicious comments separately without prior verification during the first selection evaluation meeting on June 1, 2009, and in the relevant interviews with related persons for the incident involving the false academic credentials of Appellant D as reported in a certain newspaper on August 27 of the same year. Appellant B also deliberately drafted petition letters with false contents for delivery to various recipients during the selection period. Appellant D asserted that individuals A, B, and C had undermined his moral rights and reputation and sought a joint and amount of compensation for his non-property damage in accordance with the first part of Paragraph 1 of Article 184, Articles 185 and Article 195 of the Civil Code.
According to the Decision, the condition for the subjective “knowledge” for the so-called “beginning with the claimant’s knowledge of the damage” under Article 197, Paragraph 1 of the Civil Code means that in case of a one-time victimization act which results in continuous damage to another person, if the damage is inseparable (qualitative accumulation) or the continuation of a certain tortious condition, the period of extinctive prescription shall commence when the victim’s knowledge of the extent of damage is certain (revelation of the damage) or the end of the illegal tortious act. However, in case the perpetrator’s tortious act continues (continuous victimization), resulting in continued consequences of victimization (damage), if the various illegal tortious acts and the consequences of damage are mutually independent and distinguishable (quantitative division), the victim’s right to claim damages will take place by the incessant or gradual occurrence of the damage, and the commencement of the statute of limitations for the damage caused by such incessant independent acts shall be separately determined based on the victim’s knowledge in order to meet the gist of Article 197, Paragraph 1 of the Civil Code and to fulfill the legislative objective of balancing the stability of law and order and the interest of the parties.
It was further pointed out in this Decision that the original trial court exercised its authority of weighing the evidence and finding the facts in determining that since the statements given by Appellants A, B, and C in the course of the interviews and the statement of Appellant D were made at different times and in different manners, the period of extinctive prescription for the damages claims for the tortious acts shall commence separately. Appellant D learned about the statements given by individuals A, B and C during their interviews on January 12, 2012 and about the contents of the petition letters on February 10, 2012 but filed a complaint alleging that individuals A, B, and C had violated his reputation and moral right on February 9, 2014. Therefore, the two-year period of extinctive prescription for the right to claim damages with respect to the above tortious acts had certainly expired.