Hopewell may seek appeal in expired compensation case


The Central Administrative Court ruled on Monday (September 18) that the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) was not liable for paying 27 billion baht in compensation to Hopewell (Thailand) Co Ltd as the statute of limitations had expired.

Speaking after the verdict, Hopewell's lawyers indicated that an appeal could be filed with the Supreme Administrative Court should Hopewell executives decide to do so.

The ruling is the latest twist in a decades-long saga case that has been going on for more than 30 years.

On April 22, 2019, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the Transport Ministry and SRT to pay 27 billion baht in damages and accrued interest to Hopewell. The government responded by assigning Peeraphan Salirathviphak, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's advisor at that time, to work with the ministry to seek a new trial.

The new trial proceedings duly entered the Central Administrative Court. On September 18, 2023, the Court held a hearing and ruled that while Hopewell (Thailand) had the right to file a dispute case because the company had received a termination letter on January 30, 1998, this had to be done within five years from the date they knew or should have known about the matter, as stipulated in Section 51 of the Administrative Courts Act 1999. The right to claim by the plaintiff had therefore expired under the law.

Nirut Maneepan, the Governor of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), noted that the court’s ruling aligned with the previous decision by the Supreme Administrative Court regarding the statute of limitations and that therefore the government and the SRT might not have to pay the 27 billion baht compensation as previously ordered by the Supreme Administrative Court.

Supat Tirachusak, a member of Hopewell's legal team, acknowledged that the Central Administrative Court's decision aligned with the previous opinion of the Attorney General, focusing on the statute of limitations issue. They planned to report this decision to Hopewell's executives for further consideration of how to proceed, including potentially filing an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court.

In summary, the Central Administrative Court's decision regarding the statute of limitations could potentially lead to the cancellation of the 27-billion-baht compensation claim, thus relieving the Transport Ministry and the SRT from paying damages for the cancelled Hopewell project, as originally ordered by the Supreme Administrative Court, and drawing a line under the legal challenges.