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Charter court dismisses earlier verdict on Hopewell saga, kills order to pay Bt24-bn compensation


The Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that the Supreme Administrative Court’s verdict in 2002 stipulating that the statute of limitations of the Hopewell case began from March 9, 2001 – the date the Administrative Court was established – is unconstitutional.

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The Transport Ministry and State Railway of Thailand (SRT) submitted a petition in November 2020 seeking a Constitutional Court ruling on whether the earlier verdict was in breach of the charter.

The Transport Ministry and SRT claim that the arbitration committee in the case had failed to forward the court resolution to Parliament for inspection and did not publish it in the Royal Gazette.

The charter court ruled that the earlier resolution was in violation of the Constitution’s Article 3 (second paragraph) and Article 197 (fourth paragraph).

The charter court also found that the resolution goes against the 1999 Establishment and Proceedings of Administrative Cases Act, which says the statute of limitations of a case commences from the day the dispute is declared.

The Constitutional Court’s decision to order revocation of the earlier verdict will consequently nullify the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling in April 2019, which stipulated that the ministry and SRT pay about Bt24 billion in compensation to Hopewell for contract termination.

Hong Kong-based Hopewell Holding’s contract to build an elevated road and train system to ease traffic in the capital was terminated in 1997 when the country was hit by the “tom yam kung” financial crisis. About 10 per cent of the project had been completed at that point.

This long-running saga began in 1990 when the Chatichai Choonhavan government signed a 30-year concession with the private firm to build the Bt80-billion project.

Published : March 17, 2021

By : THE NATION