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(釋字第 540 號 )      友善列印PRINT  
Interpretation
J.Y.
Interpretation
NO.540 
Date 2002/3/15
Issue When those who file applications with the authority to purchase or lease public-housing units or to obtain a loan to purchase public-housing units enter into agreements and establish contractual relationships with the authority, how shall the agreements be classified under the law? And, where it is clearly categorized by the law as a matter of public law nature, should ordinary courts dismiss the case by reason that it has no jurisdiction over the case and there are new administrative litigations available?
Holding   To attain administrative objectives, the State may elect to engage in acts either under public or private law as a means of its execution. Where a dispute arises from the said act, such dispute of a public-law nature shall be adjudicated by administrative courts, while a dispute of a private-law nature shall be adjudicated by ordinary courts. However, the legislative body may, pursuant to its authority and taking into consideration the nature of cases, the function of the currently existing litigation system and the public interests, appropriately design the allotment of jurisdiction or procedures for dispute resolutions. Where the said design is enacted as a law, the law shall be binding upon all the institutions and the people within the State; and all levels of the adjudicative body shall be obligated to follow it as well.

  To provide housing for lower-income families, the Public Housing Act, enacted on July 30, 1982, authorizes the competent authority to construct public-housing units for sale or for lease, to provide loans to the said families for their self-construction or to encourage private investors to build public-housing units. With the exception of public-housing units constructed by private investors, where the competent authority has approved the sale or lease of or loans for home construction and the said authority has, on behalf of the State or local government bodies, entered into sales, lease or loan agreements with buyers, tenants or borrowers accordingly, the legal relationships between the parties to such agreements do not result from the exercise of public authority under the public law and as a result, they are not public contracts. Article 21, Paragraph 1, of the said Act stipulates that where a violation of this Article occurs after the sale of a public-housing unit, "the competent public housing authority may retrieve such housing unit and the land on which the unit was built and may apply to the court for a judgment of compulsory enforcement." It makes the Article a special provision that grants enforcement power to regulate specific violations of the said agreements. Such cases concerning the legal relationship between private rights shall be categorized as civil ones and the courts referred to in this Article shall be ordinary courts. Consequently, ordinary courts having jurisdiction over such similar cases shall not dismiss the petitions by making a decision rejecting a compulsory enforcement by reason that a new system of administrative litigations has commenced and there are administrative courts to govern the petitions.

  Where a case is determined by virtue of this Yuan's interpretation as a civil matter and this Yuan opines that the administrative court filing the petition for interpretation has no jurisdiction over the case, such administrative court shall dismiss the case by a decision and then, pursuant to its authority, transfer the case to an ordinary court having jurisdiction over the case. Further, the court to which the case being transferred shall, according to the meaning of this Interpretation, bring the case to trial in accordance with the law to protect the people's right of instituting legal proceedings vested by the Constitution.
Reasoning   To attain administrative objectives, the State may elect to engage in acts either under public or private law as a means of its execution. Where a dispute arises from the said act, such dispute of a public-law nature shall be adjudicated by administrative courts, while a dispute of a private-law nature shall be adjudicated by ordinary courts. However, the legislative body may, pursuant to its authority and taking into consideration the nature of cases, the function of the currently existing litigation system and the public interests, appropriately design the allotment of jurisdiction or procedures for dispute resolutions. Where the said design is enacted as a law, even though the nature of the case may be debatable academically, the law's binding effect upon all the institutions and the people within the State shall not be affected and all levels of the adjudicative body shall be obligated to follow it. This Yuan's Interpretation No.466 also presents the same intent as the abovementioned.

  The Public Housing Act, enacted for the purposes of overall administration of the construction and management of public housing, securing the people's livelihood and improving the society's welfare (Article 1 of the Act), stipulates that the government agency shall acquire land to build and allot housing units to provide housing for lower-income families (Articles 2 and 6 of the Act). The Act's concrete provisions allow the authority to acquire land, raise funds and build housing units for lower-income families, to administer the sale and lease of such units, to provide loans for their self-construction or to encourage private investors to build public-housing units (See Articles 2, 6, 14, 16, 23 and 30 of the Act). As for public-housing units constructed by private investors under incentive programs, there is no doubt that the legal relationships between those who purchased the public-housing units and those who built such units are purely private ones. With respect to the authority's direct construction and allotment of public-housing units, when those who have a need to purchase or lease a public-housing unit or to obtain a loan to buy their public housing unit, firstly they have to file an application with the authority. Upon approving their application, the authority will enter into a sale, lease, or loan agreement with such an applicant under private law. These agreements are executed for the administrative purposes of promoting social welfare and providing for lower-income people and are private economic measures having no authority/subservience relationship thereto. By their nature, these agreements are equivalent to the private legal relationships between various levels of the competent authority, on behalf of the State or local government bodies, and the people. Therefore, the direct construction, allotment and management of public housing by the government authority shall not be regarded as the exercise of public authority. As for those applications filed with the authority to purchase, lease or obtain a loan, should the authority determine the said applicants to be ineligible, resulting from the authority's scrutiny in accordance with relevant regulations or its discretion (See Article 4 of the Measures Governing the Sale and Lease of Public Housing and the Tender for Sale and Lease of Commercial Services Facilities and Other Buildings), those ineligible applicants shall not be able to enter into a contractual relationship with the authority. Since no private legal relationship has been established between the authority and the ineligible applicants, it is another issue if the ineligible applicants do not agree with the authority's determination. In such case, they have to institute administrative litigations under the law.

  Before the new system set forth in the Administrative Proceedings Act became effective on July 1, 2000, due to the lack of appropriate administrative litigations and alternative litigation proceedings in the then existing law, some cases of a public-law nature had been long resolved pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure. For example, cases concerning insurance compensation to government employees (See J.Y. Interpretation No. 466) and disputes arising from and between the insured and the insurance healthcare providers, provided for in Article 5 of the National Health Insurance Act, prior to the promulgation of Interpretation No. 524, are both applicable to the abovementioned application. Since the new administrative litigations have been put into effect, similar cases of the same nature shall not be adjudicated by civil courts. However, where a case of a public-law nature is clearly categorized as belonging to a jurisdiction other than the administrative one by law, the case is not necessarily subject to the administrative courts' jurisdiction just because of the expansion of administrative litigation categories and the new amendment to administrative litigations. For instance, incidents concerning a void election or the elected declaration void (See Article 101 of the Public Officials Election and Recall Act), incidents concerning traffic violation (Articles 88 and 89 of the Act Governing the Punishment of Violation of Road Traffic Regulations) and incidents concerning administrative penalties (Articles subsequent to Article 55 of the Social Order Maintenance Act) are to be adjudicated by civil courts and criminal courts, respectively. Furthermore, the appeal systems and remedy procedures for the abovementioned incidents are not quite the same as those of the ordinary civil or criminal cases. Those types of incidents fall within the category stipulated in Article 2 of the Administrative Proceedings Act "where the law provides a specific category to a public-law case and does not allow the case to be adjudicated by administrative courts." In line with the above, since the underlying case concerning the purchase of a public-housing unit is categorized as a private-law matter, Article 21, Paragraph 1, of the Public Housing Act provides, if any of the following circumstances listed as from (a) through (g) occurs, "the competent public housing authority may retrieve the housing unit and the land on which the unit was built and may apply to the court for a judgment of compulsory enforcement." The contents in (a) to (g) are as follows: (a) to make illegal use of the public-housing unit; (b) to fail to pay the scheduled interests and principal of a loan for three consecutive months and to remain in arrears upon notice; (c) to sell, mortgage, give away as a gift or exchange the public housing unit without the authority's consent; (d) to have more than one public-housing unit built for one family either by the government directly or by that family using loans; (e) to have the public housing unit changed to non-residence use or for lease and neither to recover nor to terminate the lease within thirty (30) days upon notice; (f) upon notice, not to move into the public-housing unit after three (3) months from purchase; or (g) to fail to pay management expenses for six (6) months. This is a special provision that grants enforcement power to regulate specific violations of the said agreements. Such cases concerning the legal relationship between private rights shall be categorized as civil ones and the courts referred to in this Article shall be ordinary courts. Consequently, ordinary courts having jurisdiction over such cases shall not dismiss the petitions by making a decision rejecting a compulsory enforcement by reason that a new system of administrative litigation has commenced and there are administrative courts to govern the petitions.

  Pursuant to Article 178 of the Administrative Proceedings Act, this petition for interpretation is filed with this Yuan by an administrative court with regard to a pending case concerning its authority to adjudicate such a case. To follow the law completely, this Interpretation on the underlying case as to what type of court has the jurisdiction over it shall be a final decision. Consequently, each and every court regardless of its nature shall be bound by such a final decision and no authority may be found for any court to question the issue of jurisdiction on subsequent proceedings in regard of the underlying case. In addition, where a case is determined by virtue of this Yuan's interpretation as a civil matter but an ordinary court had refused to take up the case by reason of no jurisdiction and thus made a decision to dismiss the filing, such dismissal was made due to the court's misunderstanding of the scope of its jurisdiction and the decision thereof was apparently flawed without binding effects (See J.Y. Interpretation No.115). Hence, the administrative court filing the petition for interpretation with this Yuan shall dismiss the case by a decision and then, pursuant to its authority, transfer the case to an ordinary court having jurisdiction over the case. The court to which the case is being transferred shall, according to the meaning of this Interpretation, bring the case to trial in accordance with the law to protect the people's right of instituting legal proceedings vested by the Constitution. Furthermore, with respect to the issue of jurisdiction, should an ordinary court have a different opinion from that of an administrative court, due to the lack of relevant law or regulation, as in Article 178 of the Administrative Proceedings Act, to offer a resolution to settle the conflict regarding the issue of jurisdiction between ordinary courts and administrative courts, the relevant authorities should follow the instructions provided for in this Interpretation to re-examine the current problems and thereafter design suitable resolutions to resolve the problems.

' Translated by Wei-Feng Huang of THY Taiwan International Law Offices.
Opinion
(Files)
Chinese only
 

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