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Thailand: First Product Liability Law Coming into Force

(Feb. 5, 2009) On February 20, 2009, Thailand's Liability for Damages Caused by Unsafe Goods Act B.E. 2551 will enter into force. The country's first product liability law, the Act is described as “groundbreaking legislation as it empowers the court, for the first time, to grant punitive damages to injured parties. “Thailand – Product Liability – June 2008, Allens Arthur Robinson website, (last visited Feb. 2, 2009).) The Act, among other key features:

· simplifies the procedure for filing of lawsuits on unsafe goods against the entrepreneur;

· introduces the concept of strict liability, shifting the burden of proof to the entrepreneur. An injured party need only prove damages from unsafe goods used or stored according to conventional practice and, significantly, the party need not prove which entrepreneur caused the damages;

· does not allow entrepreneurs to escape liability by means of agreements with consumers to disclaim or limit liability;

· imposes joint liability on the manufacturer, importer, or seller or user of a trade name or trademark, among others; and

· introduces the concept of punitive damages applicable to entrepreneurs.

(5. New Law on Unsafe Goods, 17 NEWSLETTER 3 (Apr. 2008), Narit & Associates website, available at
; The Liability for Damages Caused by Unsafe Goods Act B.E., 2551, THAILAND LAW FORUM, Dec. 16, 2008, available at

“Entrepreneur” is defined, among other entities, as a manufacturer, an importer, or a seller or user of a trade name or trademark presenting itself in such a way that it might be construed to be a manufacturer, commissioning party, or importer. Goods are defined under the Act as supra.)

Defenses available to entrepreneurs, who bear the burden of proof, include: 1) the goods are not unsafe goods (as defined by law); 2) the injured party was aware that the goods were unsafe; 3) the damages were caused by the goods' incorrect use or storage based on the use or storage instructions, warnings, or product information provided by the entrepreneur; 4) the danger of unsafe goods was caused by the design or instructions provided by a commissioning party and the manufacturing entrepreneur “did not and should not have expected the danger” and 5) where the entrepreneur is a producer of the goods' components, the danger of the unsafe goods was caused by their design or assembly or by the use or storage instructions, warnings, or product information provided by the manufacturer. (Id.)

Damages are set forth under the Civil and Commercial Code. However, courts may also require compensation for mental damage (that may inure to the benefit of the injured party's heirs) and punitive damages for “knowing or reckless behavior or failure to take appropriate action after learning that the goods are unsafe; provided that punitive damages may not exceed two times the actual compensation.” (Id., italicized in original.)

The statute of limitations for lawsuits brought under the Act is three years from the day on which the injured party learns of the damage and the entrepreneurs responsible or ten years after the goods are sold. A similar statute of limitations applies to cases of damage caused by substances from unsafe goods that accumulate inside the body. (Id.)