Consumer protection for foreigners in Thailand
Consumer protection as an alternative to juridical procedures
Under Article 57 of the Thai Constitution B.E. 2540, “the right of a person as a consumer shall be protected as prescribed by the laws.” The Consumer Protection Act 1979 protects the “consumer” against the “businessman” under certain conditions and limitations and prevents unjust and unfair competition. Thais, as well as foreigners, have the opportunity to use this strong Thai legislation as a more economical alternative to litigations at the Thai civil courts.
Thailand’s consumer protection legislation is not only applicable to routine daily business transactions, but includes foreign property investments in resort developments, villa constructions, and condo purchases as “contract-controlled business”.
Seven aspects of Thailand’s Consumer Protection Act and its application in practice
#1. Consumers and business operators: A consumer in the meaning of the law is any person who buys or obtains services from a businessman, a person who has been offered or invited by a businessman to purchase goods or obtain services, or a person who duly uses goods or a person who duly receives services from a businessman even he/she is not a person who pays the remuneration. Businessman under consumer protection legislation is a seller, manufacturer or importer of goods for sale, a purchaser of goods for resale, a person who renders services, and a person who operates an advertising business.
#2. Consumer protection rights are
- the right to receive correct and sufficient information and description as to the quality of goods or services.
- the right to enjoy freedom in the choice of products or services,
- the right to expect safety in the use of goods or services,
- the right to receive a fair contract,
- the right to have the injury considered and compensated under the laws on such matters or with the provision of the Consumer Protection Act.
Complaints from the consumer who suffer hardship or injury resulting from the acts of the businessman can be submitted to the Office of the Consumer Protection Board which is attached to the Office of the Prime Minister.
#3. Scope of protection: A contract between a businessman and a consumer shall not be unreasonably disadvantageous and shall not stipulate unfair contract terms to the consumer. An advertisement may not contain a statement which is unfair to consumers or which may cause an adverse effect on the society as a whole; that is, notwithstanding such statement concerns with the origin, condition, quality or description of goods or services as well as the delivery, procurement or use of products or services.
#4. Goods which are manufactured for sale in the factories and products which are ordered or imported into Thailand for sale are label-controlled goods. When there is reasonable cause to suspect that any goods may be harmful to the consumer, the businessman can be requested to have such products tested or verified.
#5. Legislation: The Consumer Protection Act is accompanied by the Direct Sales and Direct Marketing Act, the Thai Product Liability Act, the Consumer Case Procedure Act and the Act on the Establishment of Consumer Organization Council Act. Additional consumer protection is provided by the Unfair Contract Term Act and the Trade Competition Act. Regarding land developments, a complaint with the Land Development Commission is an additional option for the investor in real estate.
#6. Social Media: Procedures at the Consumer Protection Board are frequently shadowed by statements and disputes on social media. This might result in significant damages on the side of the business operator. In such cases, it is advisable to utilize Thailand’s strict jurisdiction regarding defamation and smear campaigns.
#7. Procedures: The tasks at the Office for Consumer Protection Board are normally accomplished within two months. The board is open to delay tactics by the consumer, while the business operator is typically interested in a swift procedure. The following chart gives a simplified overview.
Professional services for foreign investors in Thailand’s industries and real estate
PUGNATORIUS Ltd. is the Bangkok-based specialist provider of legal services and tax advice on foreign investments in Thailand’s manufacturing and service industries as well as property acquisitions and developments. The law firm accompanies business operators as well as the consumer side in their dealings with Thailand’s Consumer Protection Board.
Foreigners investing in Thailand should consider the range, applicability, and coverage of Thailand’s consumer protection legislation regarding foreign investments, including
- delayed or discontinued condominium and resort developments,
- representations and warranties in villa purchases and the formation and acquisition of landholding companies,
- investments in undeveloped land, farms and other property,
- acquisitions of companies and businesses in the form of a share deal or asset deal,
- the purchase of high-value or luxury assets like yachts, supercars, etc.
The law firm is not the appropriate partner for low-value disputes. The OCPB website allows online complaints.