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The TCC delivers its Judgment 112-Hsien-Pan-20 (2023)


    TAIPEI, January 4, 2024 — The Taiwan Constitutional Court (TCC) delivered its Judgment of the "Case on Private Lands Owned Since the Japanese Colonial Era being Registered as 'State-owned' through General Registration of Land (1946-1949)" on December 29, 2023.


Principal Facts, Issues, and Procedure of the Case

    After WWII, the ROC government implemented various land registration regulations and announced notices to administer cadastral surveys on the ownership of lands and relevant property rights in Taiwan from 1946 to 1949. The so-called "General Registration of Land" regulations recognized private land ownership during the Japanese Colonial era but required landowners to undergo certain procedures (e.g. reporting land rights, admission of document of title) to get their property rights certified and registered during a time window. Lands not registered under this process would be registered as "state-owned." Under the Second Sentence of the Supreme Court Civil Precedent 70-Tai-Shang-311 (hereinafter, "the disputed precedent"), the State may bar unregistered original land owners from claiming registration of cancellation toward state-owned lands (i.e. to cancel the land's "state-owned" status) by raising the defense of extinctive prescription if the claim is not exercised within fifteen years (prescription period set by the Civil Code). A question is raised as to whether the Civil Code's extinctive prescription period applies when land owners request to cancel the "state-owned" registration of their private lands owned since the Japanese Colonial era. 

    The petitioner of this case, Li-Tien SHIH, motioned for the State to cancel the "state-owned" registration status on the land he succeeded, which was owned by his grandfather since the Japanese Colonial era. The petitioner claimed that due to the low rate of educational attainment and lack of rights consciousness during the post-war period, his grandfather did not complete the General Registration of Land process, which resulted in his private land being registered as "state-owned" in 1965. The petitioner argued that he, his father, and his grandfather have occupied and used the land continuously. Moreover, they have even paid for the land's agricultural land tax in monetary substitution up until the government stopped levying it in 1979. The district court ruled against the petitioner's favor citing the disputed precedent. The high court maintained the district court's opinion on appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the petitioner's last appeal. The petitioner filed for constitutional review, arguing that the disputed precedent violated the people's property right by allowing the State to raise the defense of extinctive prescription for previously private-owned lands it acquired after the change of sovereignty. 

    Judgment 112-Hsien-Pan-20 (2023) was announced on December 29, 2023. Justice Sheng-Lin JAN wrote this Judgement. Four concurring opinions and two dissenting opinions were filed.  


Decision of the Court

    The TCC declared the Second Sentence of the disputed precedent unconstitutional for not conforming to the protection of property rights under Article 15 of the Constitution and should cease to be referenced by all courts immediately. The TCC ruled that the extinctive prescription of the Civil Code does not apply to the situation where landowners requested a registration of cancellation of "state-owned" status for their lands (owned since the Japanese Colonial rule) that are registered to the State due to failing to register during the General Registration of Land period. 

    In its reasoning, the TCC pointed out that the General Registration of Land (1946-1949) did not have the effect of altering legal ownership of people's property, and that the exercising of extinctive prescription defense should follow the principle of good faith. The TCC further stressed that applying the Civil Code's extinctive prescription to land disputes originated from land registration policies during the change of sovereignty would be against the principle of good faith considering the background of post-war Taiwan society. 



  1. Full texts of the Judgment and Opinions are available on the TCC website here  (Traditional Chinese). An English summary of this Judgment will be available later on the TCC English website.
  2. The TCC's Case News is prepared by the Department of Clerks for the Constitutional Court (Judicial Yuan) for information only and does not bind the Court. 
  3. In case of any conflict of meaning between the Traditional Chinese version and the translated English version, the Traditional Chinese version shall prevail. 
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