Products Liability under Thai Law
In Thailand, products liability is covered under the Liability Arising from Damages from Unsafe Products Act of B.E. 2551 (2008) and which came into force on February 21, 2009. Before the enactment of the Unsafe Products Act, consumers injured by unsafe products generally only had recourse under the Civil and Commercial Code, which created the burden of having to prove negligence of the manufacturer or distributor or some other party in the supply chain. However, the Unsafe Products Act allows consumers to sue responsible parties in the supply chain on the basis of strict liability. At this time, there are no noteworthy Thai Supreme Court cases which have interpreted the Unsafe Products Act; however, a few important points of the law are as follows:
- According to Section 4 of the Act, any product causing damage or that may cause damage to a consumer shall be considered unsafe, regardless of design or manufacturing defect. Furthermore, a product shall be considered unsafe if warnings or instructions regarding the use or storage of the product were missing or incorrect or vague when considering the normal method of use and storage of the product. Nevertheless, a Ministerial Regulation passed in 2010 specifically exempts agricultural products that pass certain standardized treatment procedures and a Ministerial Regulation in 2011 specifically exempts drugs and medical devices produced by healthcare providers to treat patients in specific cases.
- According to Section 5 of the Act, all parties in the supply chain are jointly liable under the law; including the manufacturer, importer, or the “party authorizing the production” or a party using a trademark or trade name or some other means that can be understood to mean that that party is one of the aforementioned parties in the supply chain.
- The seller shall be held liable if the other parties in the supply chain cannot be identified.
- However, Section 8 of the Act exempts the manufacturer from liability if it can prove that the danger of the product was caused by a design defect of the party authorizing production or that the manufacturer was simply following instructions of the party authorizing the production. A manufacturer will also be exempt if the danger of the products is due to the nature of the warning or product information regarding use or storage of the product provided by the party authorizing the production.
- In accordance with the principle of strict liability, Section 6 of the Act requires a consumer to prove only (1) damages and (2) that the products were used and stored in a normal manner. There is no requirement of having to prove any wrongful action on the part of a party in the supply chain. Furthermore, according to Section 11(1) of the Act, a consumer (or the surviving family) may be granted damages for mental injury. In any case, the consumer is not prohibited from seeking additional redress under Section 420 of the Civil and Commercial Code if it can prove negligence or other wrongful act of a party in the supply chain.
- The statute of limitations according to Section 12 of the Act is as follows:
- An action must be filed within 3 years after the consumer became aware of (1) the injury and (2) the identity of the responsible parties in the supply chain, but not exceeding 10 years after the date the product was sold; or
- In the case where the injury was caused by the accumulation of chemicals in the body or a period of time was required to pass before the appearance of symptoms, an action must be filed within 3 years after the consumer became aware of (1) the injury and (2) of the identity of the responsible parties in the supply chain; but not exceeding 10 years after the consumer became aware of the injury.
Products liability law is complex. Consumers who are the victims of an unsafe product are urged to consult with competent legal counsel.