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  • Interpretation
  • No.621
  • Date
  • 2006/12/22
  • Issue
    • May an administrative fine be subject to compulsory enforcement upon the death of an obligor after such fine becomes enforceable?
  • Holding
    •        Article 15 of the Administrative Execution Act provides, “If an obligor dies leaving an estate, the administrative enforcement office may forthwith enforce against such estate.”  The said provision is intended to direct the administrative enforcement office as to how compulsory enforcement should be conducted upon the death of an obligor who has the duty to make monetary payment under public law.  An administrative fine is a duty to make monetary payment under public law.  Where an administrative fine is duly imposed and thus becomes enforceable, if an obligor dies leaving an estate, such duty to make monetary payment under public law which arises from the imposition of said administrative fine may be subject to compulsory enforcement pursuant to the aforesaid Article 15 of the Administrative Execution Act, and the subject matter of the enforcement should be limited to the estate of the deceased obligor.
  • Reasoning
    •        An administrative fine is an act of an administrative agency whereby the duty to make payment of a certain sum of money is imposed by such agency upon a person who violates his or her obligation under administrative law.  The imposition of an administrative fine is intended to punish the person liable to penalty for his or her violating act.  If the violator dies before the administrative act is duly effected, the subject of the penalty no longer exists and is thus incapacitated from assuming the liability to pay the fine.  Besides, since there would be no substantial reason for imposing a punitive disposition upon a deceased person, no such disposition should be made.  The intent of J.Y. Interpretation Y.T. No. 1924 was to clarify this point by stating, “no punishment should be imposed on A, who is deceased, for his or her having falsely declared the contract value except that his or her successor(s) should nonetheless pay the overdue taxes according to applicable regulations.”
      
    •        Where an obligor dies after an administrative fine is imposed but before he or she makes the payment for such fine, the obligation to pay the fine is exclusively his or hers.  As for the issue of whether the decedent’s estate is subject to compulsory enforcement, the special provision of the law, if any, should be followed in dealing with the matter.  Where the State exercises its public authority by imposing an administrative fine upon a person who violates his or her duty under the administrative law, the cause of such penalty must be related to public affairs.  And, the very “public” nature of such penalty has rendered the administrative fine no longer a mere retributive or corrective act aimed at the violating individual, but at the same time produced the effect of punishing such individual for the detriment caused to the State’s functions, administrative effectiveness, as well as the general public, by such violating act, so that a rule-of-law order can be established and public interests can be promoted.  Where an actor dies after an administrative fine is imposed but before such fine is enforced against him or her, the legislators may have such discretion as to decide whether to proceed with enforcement because the administrative fine was designed to be effective when the main consideration is the retributive function of such fine or the correction of the individual’s behavior; or to proceed with enforcement because the fine was designed to establish a rule-of-law order and promote public interests regardless of the death of the obligor when the main consideration is the nature of the fine to punish the violating act.
      
    •        Article 2 of the Administrative Execution Act provides, “The ‘administrative execution’ referred to in this Act shall mean the compulsory and immediate enforcement of the duty to make monetary payment under public law, or the duty to act or forbearance to act.”  Article 15 thereof provides, “If an obligor dies leaving an estate, the administrative enforcement office may forthwith enforce against such estate.”  Under the authorization of Article 43 of the Administrative Execution Act, Article 2 of the Enforcement Rules of the Administrative Execution Act provides, “The ‘duty to make monetary payment under public law’ referred to in Article 2 of the Act shall mean any of the following: (i) any and all taxes, overdue charges, late filing fees, interests, late filing surcharges, late filing penalties and underestimation surcharges; (ii) administrative fines and default surcharges; (iii) substitute performance fees; and (iv) other duties to make monetary payments under public law.”  The foregoing provision specifically names administrative fines as one of the duties to make monetary payments under public law and is not contrary to the intent of the legal authorization.  The overall implementation and speedy execution of the administrative objectives hinge on the actualization of the monetary payments under public law.  Therefore, it is both reasonable and necessary for the administrative enforcement office to directly enforce such payment against the deceased obligor’s estate.  Under the existing law, where an administrative fine is duly imposed and thus becomes enforceable, if an obligor dies leaving an estate, such duty to make monetary payment under public law which arises from the imposition of said administrative fine may be subject to compulsory enforcement pursuant to the aforesaid Article 15 of the Administrative Execution Act, and there is no legal basis upon which such duty is not enforceable.  Nevertheless, the provisions of the aforesaid Article 15 of the Administrative Execution Act are specifically designed to target the compulsory enforcement conducted by the administrative enforcement office, and the subject matter of the enforcement should be limited to the estate of the deceased obligor.  It was held in J.Y. Interpretation Y.J.T. No. 2911 that where a ruling to impose an administrative fine pursuant to financial regulations becomes conclusive, if the person subject to the fine dies before it is enforced, no enforcement may be made against his or her heir(s), if any, unless the law or regulation provides otherwise.  The said interpretation should be so construed as to mean that no enforcement may be made against the original property of such heir(s) except as otherwise provided by law or regulation.  Since, where an obligor dies leaving an estate after an administrative fine becomes enforceable and before he or she pays such fine, the estate is subject to compulsory enforcement by the administrative enforcement office pursuant to Article 15 of the Administrative Execution Act and thus the estate inheritable by his or her heir(s) under Article 1148 of the Civil Code is subject to restrictions, such heir(s) should be permitted to initiate or continue any and all procedures for administrative relief as an interested party (or interested parties) (see Article 14-II and Article 18 of the Administrative Appeal Act; Article 4-III and Article 186 of the Administrative Litigation Act; and Articles 168 and 176 of the Code of Civil Procedure).  In addition, it should be noted that the scope of this interpretation does not extend to any duty to make monetary payment under public law other than an administrative fine.
      
    • *Translated by Vincent C. Kuan.
      
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