11 July 2024

Thailand’s Central Administrative Court has revoked a ruling by an arbitration tribunal, ordering the Ministry of Transport and State Railways of Thailand (SRT) to pay Hopewell Thailand Company 24 billion baht plus interest for breach of contract for the cancellation of the controversial Hopewell road and rail project back in 1998.

The Central Administrative Court’s decision was delivered on Monday, ending the current phase of the long-running legal battle through the arbitration and judicial processes between Hopewell, the Transport Ministry and the SRT.

Hopewell Thailand now has the right to appeal the decision to the Supreme Administrative Court.

The court revoked the arbitration panel’s ruling on the grounds that Hopewell Thailand did not submit its case to the arbitration panel within one-year of receiving a notification from the SRT, on January 31, 1998, cancelling the Hopewell project.

The Arbitration Act B.E. 2530 (1987) was replaced by a new act in B.E. 2545 (2002), which extends the timeframe for the submission of a case to the arbitration panel from one to five years, but Hopewell Thailand did not submit its case by the January 30, 2003 deadline.

As such, the court ruled that Hopewell Thailand lost the right to claim compensation from the SRT and the Transport Ministry due to the expiry of the statute of limitations.

Known as the “Hopewell saga”, the contract was signed between the Transport Ministry and Hong Kong-based Hopewell Holdings in November 1990, during the administration of Chatichai Choonhavan, for the construction of a 60km elevated road and rail system from central Bangkok to Don Mueang. The project began in 1990 but was suspended two years later by the government of Anand Panyarachun and was finally halted by legal acrimony in 1997.

Remnants of the unfinished project, dubbed as Thailand’s Stonehenge, are still visible along Vibhavadi Rangsit highway heading towards Don Mueang airport.

Read : Hopewell, the ‘ghost’ transport project still haunting Thailand 3 decades on