The Lawletter Vol. 43 No. 2
There is no question that law of a particular country develops in the context of the country's culture, religion, and customs. A case recently decided by the Supreme Court of Taiwan illustrates this point. See https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3332521. The plaintiff, identified as Luo (surname), brought a contract action against her second son, Chu, alleging that he owed her nearly US$1 million for raising him and financing his training at dental school (Chu's brother also completed dental training; he settled a similar claim with the plaintiff). She claimed that she and her husband had run a dental clinic but that, after the couple's divorce, she raised her sons as a single mother. As she was concerned that her sons would not provide for her in her old age, she had each son, at age 20, sign a written agreement, providing that her sons would pay her 60% of their net profits until the total reached 50 million new Taiwanese dollars (nearly US$1.7 million). It is implicit in the Confucian tradition of filial piety that children support their aging parents.
Chu argued that he had already paid his mother more than the required amount by working in her dental clinic and that the contract was invalid as a deviation from social morals, good customs, and public order. The court disagreed, ruling that because Chu signed the agreement as a legal adult, he was obligated to satisfy its terms. The court ordered him to pay an "upbringing fee" of more than US$754,000 plus interest, bringing the total to more than US$967,000. The court noted that civil law allowed individuals to enter into financial support agreements and that, with a ceiling in the agreement on the amount to be paid, Chu would not face a struggle to survive. Although the decision was based on the parties' contractual obligations, the Taiwan News noted that, in Taiwan, adult offspring are legally obligated to provide for their elderly parents.