Class Action Lawsuit
The class action legal proceedings came into force in Thailand in 2015 through the amendment of the country’s Civil Procedural Law. Many considered this a vital move to implement a more modernized and efficient trial and ruling for Thailand’s court system.
Class action simply refers to a litigation case that allows a large number of individuals to jointly file a claim against a common defendant. The claimants must have the same rights toward the issue even though the damages incurred may be different for each individual. This collective action enables numerous small claims to be brought to court as a single lawsuit which helps minimize the litigation expense, increasing the possibility for individuals to file for justice against large organizations. In addition, with the mechanism of a class action lawsuit, only certain members have to participate in the legal proceedings on behalf of the group.
The Thai class action procedures may be somewhat similar to the practices in other jurisdictions, but there are considerable differences in the measures and execution. Class action prosecution is relatively new in the Thai legal system. Hence, it is beneficial for both individuals and business entities in Thailand to understand the implications, advantages, disadvantages and impacts of class action law.
How is Class Action Lawsuit Different from Regular Lawsuit?
Essentially, in the ordinary legal procedure, each claimant or the party of interest files an individual lawsuit in which he or she must attend the litigation session to make an appearance before the court or assign an authorized representative to do so. Besides the costly litigation expense, it can be intimidating for a single individual if the action is filed against a large organization.
On the contrary, a group of individuals may combine their claims and bring a single case to the court. In a class action, only the appointed representative(s) of the class have to act as plaintiff(s) and attend court proceedings. Nonetheless, all class members are bound to the court’s ruling unless they decide to opt out within the specified period.
What are the Charges Qualified for Class Action?
Based on Thailand’s Civil Procedure Code, the court may consider a class action lawsuit to take place under the following circumstances.
- The types of claims are tort, breach of contract, or cases associated with the legal rights of individuals, such as those relating to consumer protection, environment, trade competition, stock exchange, for etcetera.
- The class consists of numerous individuals that it would be deemed inconvenient and impractical to hold a regular lawsuit.
- The plaintiff’s claim must demonstrate the same characteristics as the claim of the class including the nature of the accusation and the compensation demanded.
- The plaintiff must share the same rights and interests as the members of the class to validate that he or she is eligible to represent them.
- The assigned attorney must demonstrate his or her competency and ability to defend the rights of the class before the court.
The possible claims that can be prosecuted as a class action may include:
- Consumers who suffered the effects of defective products or were deceived by misleading advertisements.
- Employees who experienced unfair treatment by the employer.
- Stockholders who suffered assets lost due to investment fraud.
- Community residents impacted by environmental hazards caused by a development project, etc.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Class Action Lawsuit
Though the introduction of class action is believed to help enhance the efficiency of the juridical procedures and consists of many benefits, there are still areas for development especially when the law is comparatively new in Thailand.
Advantages of Class Action
- Helps protect the interests of multiple parties whose individual claims may seem minor. A class action that aggregates these small claims into a single lawsuit can enhance the significance of the allegation.
- Helps reduce the litigation cost as the court fees can be shared amongst the class members.
- Helps lessen the tasks for the court and those in the justice system who may otherwise have to settle multiple cases pursued without class action litigation.
- Helps increase the certainty of the settlements especially if the case is in the class’s favor. The defendant facing multiple lawsuits may not be able to pay all of the plaintiffs, and a collective complaint lodged by multiple parties is deemed more legitimate.
Disadvantages of Class Action
- Class action lawsuits normally take a long time to settle due to the large number of individuals involved which often leads to complications.
- The monetary rewards may be minimal compared to a regular lawsuit filed by an individual as the compensation will have to be distributed amongst the class members.
- The class members may not have much control over what is presented in court as the representative of the plaintiff and the lawyer will be the ones making claims and litigation decisions.
Class Action Law and Procedures in Thailand
According to the amended Civil Procedure Code, the following principles and practices shall apply to class action lawsuits.
- The court has the authority to grant permission to conduct class action proceedings, specify the scope and terminate a class with legitimate reasons.
- The plaintiff and the appointed attorney must meet the qualifications determined by the court. The court will exercise careful discretion in approving the representative.
- Each class member may choose to opt-out of the class by giving notice to the court. Those who opted out have the right to pursue individual claims.
Class Action Lawsuit Filing and Proceedings
Under Thai law, a class action lawsuit is initiated with a claim filed by the plaintiff and the appointed lawyer on behalf of the class. In order to certify a class, the court will deliberate on whether a class action proceeding is practical and appropriate for the case. The adequacy of the lawyer and the plaintiff will also be considered.
Once the class is certified, the class members as well as the public will be notified. The individuals in the class will then be bound by the court’s judgment unless they opt out of the class. However, the court may de-certify a class if necessary.
In case the litigation result is positive for the class, the members will be awarded compensation for the damages. In addition, the assigned lawyer will receive the benefit of not over 30 percent of the award gained.
Siam Legal understands the mechanism of class action lawsuits in Thailand and how to carry out the litigation process efficiently from start to finish. We can offer comprehensive legal guidance that will be valuable for your decision-making. Whether you are considering filing a class action case or facing a class action complaint, we can assist you in achieving a favorable outcome. Call us today for a consultation with a qualified lawyer.
If you have questions related to class action lawsuits in Thailand, feel free to contact us.