On 4 December 2015, an amendment to the Thailand Civil Procedure Code regarding class action proceedings(“Amendment”) came into effect. This introduced a significant development to legal proceedings in Thailand.
Aclass action is a type of litigation proceeding initiated by a large number of persons who have similar rights or interests in relation to tort, breach of contract, environment, consumer protection, labour, securities and stock exchange or trade competition.
According to the Amendment, to initiate the class action proceedings, the plaintiff has to submit the complaint together with a petition requesting for class action proceedings to the court (at all Thai courts of justice which have jurisdiction to adjudicate a civil case, except for the District Courts).The petition should specify or clarify that a class action proceeding would be more efficient than private proceedings.The court is empowered to allow class action proceedings and to determine the characteristics of that class. The class memberscan decide to opt-out of the class within the prescribed period of time and this will not prejudice their rights to file their own individual case.
The Court’s judgment will bind the plaintiff and all of the class members who did not opt-out of the class.The judgment will specify a scope of the class and the amount of payment that the defendant has to pay the plaintiff including the formula for calculation of the amount of payment to be made to the class members. In addition, the Court can order the defendant to pay for the plaintiff’s attorney’s award of not exceeding 30% of the amount under the judgment.
For the judgment execution, the plaintiff or the plaintiff’sattorney has the power to be a representative of the class of members to execute the judgment. The class members are only able to submit the petition requesting for payment but cannot execute judgment by themselves. The class action official has discretion to determine the orders of payments.
Class action proceedings are more efficient for a group of persons who have the same rights and interests. If the defendant is a company or business, it will need to be well prepared for a class action claim, given the scrutiny that the case will likely be subjected to, on account of a large number class members.
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