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Thai Law Recent Wins for Social Justice

in Business and Management by

Governments across the world are preoccupied with the global financial crisis, with many other issues being put on the backburner. However, Thailand continues to work towards the empowerment and betterment of ordinary citizens. Several changes noted by Thai law consultants in recent times exemplify this – we look at some of the most important.

The Anti-Human Trafficking Act, which came into effect in mid-2008, replaces a similar Act which was aimed specifically at women and children. The new Thai law covers all people. Thai labor laws aim to regulate legal employment; the Anti-Human Trafficking Act aims to protect those who may be engaged in ‘illegal’ employment. It aims to control the movement of persons in and out of Thailand that may be for the purpose of prostitution, slave labor, organ amputation for profit or any other exploitative behavior.

Under the new Thai law, the government has now allocated money for the prevention, policing, and suppression of human trafficking. There has also been a fund set up to aid victims of these crimes. Criminal law firms in Thailand have also noted the harsher penalties available for those found guilty of a crime under the new act. Prison terms of up to 10 years are possible, as well as fines of between 80,000 and 200.000 baht. For children under 15, even harsher penalties are in place.

Divorce is an unfortunate reality of modern life, and Thai law is catching up to some of the nuances. Thailand lawyers can now file for divorce on behalf of one party in a marriage if their husband or wife provides maintenance to another person, or upholds another person as a spouse in an adulterous relationship. The grounds for divorce also apply if fornication has been committed as a practice.

It is the Consumer Case Act which was met with the most joy by ordinary Thais. Coming into effect on 23 August 2008, the new Thai law makes it faster and easier for consumers to complain about faulty or unfit goods and services, as well as unfair contracts at any court across the country.

The new law is biased towards consumers; cases must be held at a court convenient to the consumer, and the burden of proof is on the business rather than the complainant. Only one postponement of 15 days or less is allowed.

Thailand legal services should also see a growth in the number of cases of this type, with the statute of limitations extended to three years in general, and 10 years in some cases. Consumers also benefit from an exemption in fee obligations, including court fees, commissions, witness fees, and Thailand lawyer’s fees – unless the suit is found to be unreasonable, or the damages are judged as excessive.

The benefits of the new Thai law are greatest in the medical field, where medical malpractice will be easier for the patient to complain about, and with a lower burden of proof.

Sharon Lynd Kidman, LLM, MSocSc, DBA. Research focus on the management of human interactions across organizational and medico-legal issues. Her recent work also deals with the management of stakeholder reactions towards legal matters. She previously worked for an international bank in New York, Singapore and Hong Kong.

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