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18 June 1999

Constitutional Court Tested by Government Official's Conviction

Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob was allowed by narrow decision of the Consitutional Court to keep his post despite a criminal conviction.

The case was considered important in testing the powers of the Consitutional Court. Pursuant to the Consitution, Article 216, paragraph 4, a Cabinet Member loses his post when he is sentenced to imprisonment. Newin was last year convicted in a defamation case and was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term. The Court ruled that a suspended jail term is not a sentence of imprisonment.

Bankruptcy Court Officially Opens

Thailand's first court specifically desiganted for handling bankruptcy case officially opened on June 18, 1999. The opening of the court was one of several changes adopted by the Thai government pursuant to legislation passed on April 8, 1999. There will initially be 12 courtrooms and 57 judges. The bankruptcy court has the power to issue orders to administer depositions outside of court and to attach evidence prior to the beginning of litigation. An appeal may be taken directly to the Supreme (Dika) Court, bypassing the Intermediate Court of Appeals.


16 June 1999

Amendements To Public Companies Act Expected

Proposed amendments concerning the Public Companies Act of 1992 are expected to be passed by the Cabinet. The changes would grant greater rights to small shareholders. The rights would include the right to call a shareholders meeting under certain conditions. Under the current law, only the Board of Directors can call a shareholders meeting. The new law will also require that greater details about the subject of shareholders meetings be announced prior to meetings and that the results of such meetings be published within a set period of time.

Y2K Law Delay

The drafting sub-committee that is responsible for drafting the new Y2K law has reached an impasse. Apparantly the disagreement among the members regards whether the law should order or just encourage the public and private sectors to disclose their Y2K status. Disclosure is only one aspect of the Bill, which would include consumer protection and Y2K promotion and readiness for public and private agencies. One of the issues being debated is whether or not the bill should mandate non-liability in cases where the legal entity fully disclosed its Y2K staus. The Cabinet will not be able to review the Bill at the end of this month, as was previously hoped for, due to the delay.


15 June 1999

Slight Fall in Software Privacy

The Software Business Alliance (BSA)of Thailand has reported that the software piracy rate in Thailand has fallen from 84% last year to only 82% this year. According to the BSA, this decrease is due its campaigns to thwart piracy at the retail level and public education.


14 June 1999

Thailand's First Y2K Law Being Considered

A special drafting body is preparing Thailand's first law specifically directed to the Y2K problem. The drafting body, composed of 32 people are attempting to draft a bill to encourage Y2K preparedness disclosure. The proposed law would assure that disclosure is voluntary. Under the law there would be certain incentives for good faith disclosure, such as reduced liability.


8 June 1999

Report Claims Debt Restructuring Successful

A report recently released by Seamico's Securities Plc. states that since the onset of the exonoomic crisis Thai commercial banks have raised approximately 629 billion Baht in fresh capital and subordinated debts. The report also claims that the economy is showing signs of receovery. Seamico reported that 65 Thai and International Banks have already signed debtor-creditor and inter-creditor agreements under the guidance of the Bank of Thailand.


25 May 1999

Landmark Ruling in Copyright Violation Case

In a ruling last Friday, the INtellectual Property Court handed down its first prison sentence for copyright infringement. The Court sentenced the owner of a Pantip Plaza shop to two years and four months in prison. In addition the Court handed down a fine of 440,000 baht (12,000USD).

Mr. Pravich Rattanapian, the Deputy Commerce Minister, was quoted as saying that the sentence shows that Thailand is serious about stopping intellectual property violations and send a signal to pirates who believed that they could get off easy.

The Intellectual Property Court was established in 1997. The violator's name has not been released.

The Court ruling followed a report that criticized Thailand for not enforcing intellectual property rights consistently. Thailand is on the USA's "Special 301 Watch List" of countries that are considered not to be strongly enforcing intellectual property right violations.


19 May 1999

New Electronic Commerce Laws

Prime Minister Chuan Lekpai has stated that three new electronic commerce laws will be announced by the end of the year. The National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) was assigned the task of drafting these laws a year ago. In addition, the Cabinet approved a plan to establish an E-Commerce Centre in Thailand on December 29, 1998. The three new laws are the Electronic Fund Transfer Law, the Electronic Data Interchange Law and the Digital DSignature Law.


4 May 1999

A new report on intellectual property protection by the US Trade Commissioner has criticized Thailand's response to copyright piracy. The report is quoted as saying that the Thai government has been inconsistent inits efforts to combat piracy and has resisted prosecuting infringers. The author of the report, Ms. Charlene Barshefsky placed 16 countries on a priority watch list. The report noted that no individual has ever served a criminal sentence for intellectual property right infringement in Thailand.


30 April 1999

Thailand's new anti-competition law went into effect today. The law restricts certain mergers and cartel-like price-setting. The objective of the law is to ensure that rates are determined by market mechanisms.

One group that is protesting the law is members of the maritime industry. A representative from the Bangkok Shipowners and Agents Association has stated that the maritime industry has been in alliance with unified shipping costs in regard to bills of lading and terminal handling charges. The representative noted that this is a worldwide practice.


21 April 1999

E-Commerce News:

Thailand has been preparing for its first E-Commerce set of legislation. A draft has already been completed and will cover the following areas of law: Electronic Data, Interchange Law, Electronic Funds Transfer Law, Digital Signature Law, Computer Crime, Data Protection Law and Universal Access Law. A seminar is scheduled for May 6 and 7 with experts from the government and private sector and will be held in the Siam Commercial Bank Park Plaza.


19 April 1999

Software Piracy News:

Thailand's Pantip Plaza, formerly a haven for pirated software, has recently been the subject of police crackdowns. As a result many of the CD stores no longer keep merchandise in stock, but instead are requesting that customers, pay in advance, fill out mailing forms, and have the bootleg software sent to them by mail. The crackdown has been attributed to cooperation between the Economic Crime Division and various private associations.

In a related story a recent press release revealed that a Bangkok architect's office was recently raided in Bangkok and pirated software and some 53 personal computers that were believed to be used in the pirating of the software were found. The recent crackdown was attributed to cooperation between the Economic Crime Investigation Division, the Business Software Alliance and the Department of Intellectual Property. The architects company was located on the premises of Architects One Hundred and Ten Co Ltd. and Consultants One Hundred and Ten Co., Ltd.


17 August 1998

Alien Participation Allowed In 33 More Businesses

Foreign investors became eligible to enter 33 more local businesses under the new Foreign Business Law approved by the cabinet on August 17, 1998.

The businesses were on the list of reserved occupations under the Alien Business Law, or Por Wor 281, which has been in place for more than 20 years. The cabinet opened foreign participation to reserved businesses so long as Thais hold at least 40 percent of the shares and represent two in every five directorships. Greater proportions would be permitted on a case-by-case basis but the shareholding limit must not exceed 75 percent.

Businesses to which foreign participation has been extended are: The manufacturing of alcoholic and soft drinks and beverages; ice, matches, garments and footwear (not for export); textiles and finished silk products; glassware, including light bulbs; stationery and printing paper; white and portland cement and finished products; and crockery; hairdressing and beauty salons; cold storage; entertainment; photography, processing and printing; laundering; dressmaking; auctioning, except in antiques, fine arts and handicrafts; animal husbandry; timber; fishing; sugar milling; retailing; limited ore trading; catering; wholesaling; and exporting; broking, particularly for agricultural commodity forwards, financial instruments or securities. Initial capital of more than 50 million baht is needed. Construction, especially in basic services such as infrastructure or communication systems which need high technology, sophisticated machinery or special expertise. More than 50 million baht in initial foreign capital is needed.


24 March 1999

New laws concerning land ownership for spouses of foreigners

Under amendments approved on March 24, 1999 to a ministerial regulation related to the Land Act of 1944, Thai spouses of foreigners and children of mixed blood with Thai nationality will be able to own land In Thailand.

Under the previous law, Thai nationals with foreign spouses were barred from owning land In Thailand.

This earlier provision was determined to be violative of article 30 of the Thai Constitution, which guarantees equal protection and bans unjust discrimination on grounds including origin, race, language, sex and age.

The amendment was also aimed at full compliance with article 48 of the Thai Constitution which protects the property right of an individual in accordance with the law.

The new amendments allow a Thai married legally to a foreigner to buy or receive a transfer of land if the money involved is the personal property of the Thai, and not jointly acquired by the couple during marriage.

However the Thai must confirm to the Land Department that the the money used to purchase the land is the sole property of the Thai and not jointly owned with a foreigner.


10 April 1998

The First Set of Bankruptcy Amendments are enacted

The first set of amendments to Thailand's Bankruptcy Law came into effect on April 10, 1998. The revised law is patterned on Chapter 11 of Thailand's bankruptcy law, where debtors and creditors work together in renegotiating debt repayment and reorganizing business operations. These amendments were the first changes to Thailand's Bankruptcy Act which was originally drafted and implemented in 1940. Due to the economic crisis within Thailand, legislators were compelled to reformulate existing laws for the economic sector.

The 1998 amendments to the Thai Bankruptcy Act set out certain conditions attached to what types of businesses can apply for court protection from creditors. The debtor must be technically insolvent, unable of servicing debt or have already ceased business operations. Some other highlights of the 1997 amendments include a strict timetable with limited opportunities for appeals is set for bankruptcy cases under the 1997 amendments. A company must submit a rehabilitation plan to the court within three months after the case is filed, with only two revisions allowed. A final plan must be approved by the court within five months. During the five-month period, an automatic stay on creditor claims is granted. At least three-quarters of all creditors must approve of the rehabilitation plan for it to be granted. At the end of the rehabilitation period, if creditors have received their claims from the company, the debtor or owners of the company may resume managing the firm.

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