End of Hopewell case after 30 years

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The Central Administrative Court has stayed the execution of a court injunction, upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court, ordering the Thai Transport Ministry and State Railway of Thailand to pay Hopewell (Thailand) 25.7 billion baht in compensation, for breach of contract.

The order was read on Monday, 10 days after the court read a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court allowing a retrial of the controversial case, citing the availability of new facts.

The legal battle between Hopewell (Thailand), a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hopewell Holdings, and the Ministry of Transport and SRT has dragged on for more than 20 years, making it one of Thailand’s longest-running litigations.

Hopewell was awarded a contract to build the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System, from Bangkok to Don Mueang airport in 1990.

“Hopewell Expressway” or abandoned cement columns, which can be seen at Vibhavadi Rangsit Expressway, became the symbol of the prolonged case that ended with alternative dispute resolution, namely arbitration.

Hopewell took the case to an arbitration tribunal in November 2004 and, four years later, the tribunal ordered SRT and Transport Ministry to pay the builder 11.8 billion baht in compensation. In March 2014, the Central Administrative Court annulled the tribunal’s order.

Since12 years ago, Hopewell Company has chosen an alternative dispute resolution, namely arbitration against the Thai government, and received the award as a winning party.

The arbitral tribunal issued the award, which ordered the Ministry of Transport and State Railway of Thailand to reimburse Hopewell company in 1.18 billion baht, with an interest of 7.5 baht per year for wrongful termination of the contract. The Ministry of Transport and State Railway of Thailand then submit a request to the Administrative Court to revoke the arbitration award. However, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the government had to pay more than 24,000 million baht to Hopewell.

From this case, it can be seen that arbitration is enforceable domestically and internationally. There are more than 160 countries around the world that have signed the New York Convention, which suggests that arbitration is highly regarded internationally.

When an international dispute occurs, using a traditional dispute resolution can be quite complicated in the documentation, language, and law. As such, international disputes are usually decided by arbitration as it is convenient, fast, easy, saving cost and time, and internationally recognized.

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