The Tainan Branch of the Taiwan High Court rendered the 106-Shang-Kuo-7 Civil Decision of December 12, 2017 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that the people are not aware of an assertable right due to their trust in registration conducted by the registration agency to the extent that the statute of limitation for their claims expires, if an agency is still allowed to refuse payment by asserting the statute-of-limitation defense, this will violate the principle of good faith.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Plaintiff asserted that he had acquired four tenths of the ownership of the land at issue with an area of 1,256 square meters in 1993. It was not until the Plaintiff was subsequently notified by the Yunlin County Land Office in November 2016 to pick up a new land deed that he found that the corrected area after the resurvey of the land was 1,268.83 square meters and that his ownership share was changed to one third. Since the Defendant’s erroneous land registration injured the Plaintiff due to his reduced land area, the Plaintiff claimed national compensation. The Defendant asserted that the claim was not assertable because the five-year statute of limitation had expired. The first instance court ruled against the Plaintiff. Dissatisfied, the Plaintiff filed this appeal.
According to this Decision, a land registration agency is obligated to maintain the accuracy of land registration, which pertains to major interest in the people’s property, and the people’s lawful expectation of such registration is legally protected. Therefore, when the people are not aware of an assertable right due to their trust in registration conducted by the registration agency to the extent that the statute of limitation for their claims expires, if an agency is still allowed to refuse payment by asserting the statute-of-limitation defense, this will violate the principle of good faith.
It was further pointed out in this Decision that the Defendant had made erroneous registration in July 1976. Due to the erroneous registration, the Plaintiff made an overpayment in 1993. If he could have timely known the erroneous scope of right as registered, he could have requested a refund or compensation from the seller based on the overpayment. However, since the Defendant had not corrected the registration until 2012, the Plaintiff suffered from the dilemma that the statute of limitation for all damages claims had expired. The Plaintiff had no fault whatsoever for the expiration of the statute of limitation. On the contrary, the Defendant, which is in charge of land registration, allowed the state of erroneous land registration for over three decades. It would not make sense if such erroneous state and negligence for correction could become grounds for refusing payment. In addition, this would also encourage registration agencies to delay registration corrections until the statute of limitation for land rights has expired to avoid potential liabilities and also undermine the public interest of accurate cadaster management. Therefore, the Plaintiff’s assertion that the Defendant’s statute-of-limitation defense violated the principle of good faith should be affirmed. This Decision reversed the original decision on such basis and was rendered in favor of the Plaintiff.