Consumer Protection in Thailand: Advertising
Advertising in Thailand is subject to the Consumer Protection Act of B.E. 2522 (1979), in addition to other laws depending on the type of product or service. The Act creates serious criminal penalties for any violations; therefore, it is important for businesses to ensure that their advertisements are compliant, in order to limit any possible legal liability. Generally, Thai consumer protection law regarding advertising follows the same standards as in other countries, although this article focuses on general goods and services, and not tobacco and alcohol for which there exists specific laws and regulations. The Act prohibits the following types of statements:
- A statement which is false or exaggerated; except that a statement which an ordinary person knows cannot be true is not prohibited;
- A statement which will cause misunderstanding in the essential elements concerning goods or services, notwithstanding it is based on or refers to any technical report, statistics or anything which is false or exaggerated;
- A statement which is directly or indirectly encouraging the commission of an unlawful or immoral act, or which adversely affects the national culture;
- A statement which will cause disunity or adversely affects the unity among the public;
- Other statements as prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations.
In the case where an advertisement violates any of the above-mentioned restrictions, the government committee on advertising has the authority to issue orders that the advertisement be amended or be prohibited altogether as follows:
- to rectify the statement or method of advertisement;
- to prohibit the use of certain statements as appeared in the advertisement;
- to prohibit the advertisement or the use of such method for advertisement;
- to correct by [subsequent] advertisement, the possible misunderstanding of the consumers in accordance with the rules and procedure prescribed by the Committee on Advertisement.
Furthermore, if the advertisement contains a statement which the government committee deems to be false or exaggerated, the committee has the authority to ask the advertiser to substantiate the claim. Due to the broadness of the above restrictions, advertisers may apply to the government committee on advertising for an advisory opinion. The law provides that if an advertiser publishes an advertisement based on an advisory opinion issued by the government committee, the advertiser will be immune from penalty in the case of any violation that subsequently arises.
Advertising law in Thailand is complex; furthermore, Thai law exacts criminal penalties for those who violate the law, rather than mere fines. Therefore, advertisers are advised to consult with competent legal counsel in Thailand.
Category: Constitutional Law
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