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Taiwan: Disaster Prevention and Rescue Law Amended

(June 2, 2008) Taiwan's Disaster Prevention and Rescue Law (promulgated on July 19, 2000) was amended on May 14, 2008. Among other changes, the term “disaster” is redefined to include mine disasters and forest disasters (and to remove the word “major” from the list of non-natural disasters in which these two types of disasters are also found). The powers and responsibilities of the central authority in charge of disaster prevention and rescue are newly set forth as well. The revised Law stipulates that governments at various levels are to cover matters including disaster reduction, preparations, contingency measures, and restoration and reconstruction in a disaster prevention and rescue operation plan, to be implemented by public utilities; penalties are imposed on those utilities that violate disaster prevention and rescue regulations, resulting in serious damage. The amended Law states that governments at various levels are to take appropriate measures to encourage or enforce the removal of any facilities or objects that would multiply disasters or obstruct rescue.

Under other amendments, lists are provided of particular disaster contingency measures and of specific post-disaster restoration and reconstruction measures to be implemented by government at various levels. The statute of limitations for claiming damages caused by a disaster has also been revised, to allow two years from the time that there is known to be damage to make a claim, with the limit of five years' passage since the damage occurred (as opposed to the government giving compensation within six months after an investigation and confirmation of damage and a statute of limitation of four years after the disaster occurs to lodge a claim). New provisions specify that governments at various levels may simplify administrative proceedings in order to carry out disaster rescue and reconstruction work. If a local government lacks the capacity to fund restoration and reconstruction work necessary as a result of a serious natural disaster, it may file an application with the central government for a subsidy. (Amendment to Disasters [sic] Prevention and Rescue Law, 6798 THE GAZETTE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, May 14, 2008, available at