Class action lawsuits are coming into the fore in Thailand as more groups of plaintiffs take advantage of the amended Civil Procedure Code.
Although many people may see class action lawsuits as nuisances or money grabs, especially in the litigious United States, there are legitimate benefits to allowing people who suffered similar damages to group together to sue for relief from the courts.
On the plaintiff’s side, those with similar complaints can aggregate their claims as a class, so they can litigate a matter that they probably would not be able to do so individually. On the defendant’s side, the class action lawsuit is a single action, so that one judgement would apply to every class member.
What qualifies as a class action in Thailand
Claimants can file class action claims with any court, except municipal courts, in Thailand. The claims must have the same facts affecting the class under the same legal arguments. An example is faulty car manufacturing causing malfunctions that lead to damage, injury or death. While the level of damage does not have to be the same with every class member, the cause does. Also, the law does not specify a minimum damage claim, nor does it specify a minimum number of class members.
There are a few other specifications considered by the court before granting permission for the action to proceed, including feasibility and suitability of a normal lawsuit and qualification of the class members.
Class actions are being filed in Thailand
Thailand only recently embraced the concept of class action lawsuits with amendments to the Civil Procedure Code in 2015. Since coming into effect, there have been quite a few class actions filed, including against a distributor of a Korean kitchenware brand for false advertising, against Ford Thailand for alleged substandard conditions and performance of their Fiesta and Focus vehicles, and against the BTS Skytrain system for not making train stations wheelchair accessible.
While there have been numerous claims filed, only one has been certified. Under Thai law, before a class action filing can proceed, the court must certify that the plaintiff group meets the requirements of being a “class”. In February 2018, the Civil Court in Bangkok granted a class action against Wax Garbage Recycle Center Co., Ltd. and others to proceed. The claims of alleged environmental damages causing personal injury, property damage, and business interruption losses is said to be the first certified class action in Thailand.
GPS can help determine your rights
Class actions are generally untested, but they will become more prevalent as more actions are filed. What may seem like a minor legal issue can now add up to considerable sums. GPS Legal is carefully monitoring developments. If you would like to find out more, please contact us for a consultation.