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Supreme Court overrides demand for restitution of funds granted to National Doctoral Program scholar.

17 Nov 2020

Introduction

In an interesting resolution dated November 3, 2020, the Supreme Court (Role No. 92.008-2020), upheld the ruling of the Court of Appeals of Valdivia and accepted the Appeal for Protection filed by a scholarship holder of the National Doctoral Program against the National Agency for Research and Development (“ANID”).

The facts that motivated the action were that in 2008, CONICYT, now ANID, granted the appellant a scholarship to attend the Doctorate Program in Anthropology at the Universidad Católica del Norte. However, in ANID’s opinion, the appellant obtained the degree of Doctor after the date established by the rules and regulations (2018), so when he was in default, he decided to request the restitution of the funds granted for that purpose.

The Supreme Court, in view of the purpose of the scholarship granted and pursuant to Section 2 of Law No. 20.905 (as amended by Law No. 21.006), declared that the appellant had obtained the degree of Doctor less than one month later than the date established by the applicable rules and regulations.

In this regard, the Court held that “without a doubt, the appellant fully complied with the obligation imposed by the respondent when it decided to finance his studies at the Universidad Católica del Norte, since, as is clear from the respective Rules of Procedure, the purpose of the competition in question was to pay for ‘studies leading to a Doctorate in Chilean Universities,’ which is precisely what the appellant did” (Recital Seven).

Consequently, the demand for the restitution of all the money was arbitrary, and therefore, violated the fundamental guarantees of equality before the law and the appellant’s right to property.

The sentence was agreed upon with two dissenting votes, which were to revoke the sentence that had been raised and to dismiss the attempted Appeal for Protection. This was based on the fact that the facts that were the object of the action were not undisputed and because the contested act was in accordance with the law (restitution of the amounts paid) since the degree was obtained after the date established by the applicable regulations.

Contact

In case you require additional information on this matter, you may contact Jorge Tisné (jtisne@jdf.cl).

JDF