End of Hopewell saga – Thai state to pay ฿24 billion compensation
The over twenty year long legal battle surrounding the Hopewell Project has come to a close after Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court upheld the Central Administrative Court’s decision to reject a petition, by the Transport Ministry and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), for a retrial.
As a result of this ruling, both the Transport Ministry and the SRT must pay Hopewell Holdings Company 24 billion baht in compensation for the 1998 cancellation of the 80-billion baht elevated highway and train project.
The project, which is ironically known as Thailand’s Stonehenge, due to the partially completed stanchions still visible around Bangkok, dates back to 1990, when construction, by Hopewell Thailand, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hopewell Holdings, commenced. Construction ceased in 1997, during the “tom yum gung” Asian financial crisis, with only about 10% of the project complete. The Cabinet of the day formally cancelled the contract in 1998.
Both sides demanded compensation and fought it out at an arbitration panel and twice in the Central Administrative and Supreme Administrative courts.
The Transport Ministry and the SRT lost the case in arbitration, with the panel ordering the two state agencies to pay Hopewell Thailand 24 billion baht in compensation. The two agencies appealed the panel’s ruling to the Central Administrative Court, but lost the case and then appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, which upheld the lower court’s ruling.
Refusing to pay the compensation, in October last year the Transport Ministry and SRT asked the Central Administrative Court for a retrial, claiming that they had obtained new evidence showing that Hopewell Thailand was not legally registered.
The Central Administrative Court rejected the retrial petition, stating that no new evidence had been presented. This decision was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court, putting an end to one of the longest running public/private sector legal wrangles in Thai history.