Class action is a case procedure that allows a large number of people or a group of plaintiffs with the same rights deriving from the same facts and legal principle to present a complaint to the Court. The Court, therefore, passes a judgment showing the rights of the plaintiff and the members of the class.
What is the difference between Class Action and Ordinary Action?
In Ordinary Action, the interested person must join as the party in a case or interplead to be a party in the case after the Plaintiff has filed the lawsuit. The interested person must appear in the court procedure themselves or authorize a representative to appear in the court procedure, which then has corresponding expenses and complications.
On the other hand, Class action only needs the representative of the class to be the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff shall act on behalf of the large number of injured parties. Consequently, it is more convenient than the ordinary action. The court judgment is binding to all the class members. In case a member does not want to be bonded with the judgment, he/she can show the intention to opt-out of the class action within the prescribed period. The prescribed or limitation period ends when the court allows for class action, or when the parties agreed to make a compromise agreement or has agreed to go for arbitration.
What happens after a person opted-out of the class?
A person who opted-out of the class has the right to file a separate lawsuit and pursue individual claims. Moreover, he/she cannot file a motion to intervene or join as a plaintiff in the class action.
What kinds of lawsuits are eligible for class action?
According to the Thailand Civil Procedure Code, where there are numerous members of a class, the plaintiff who is a member of the class, may request for a class action on the following cases:
Breach of contract cases; and
Cases claiming various legal rights. This includes the law concerning the environment, the protection of consumers, labour, stocks and stock markets, trade competition.
The court may allow a case to proceed as a Class Action in the following conditions:
The nature of the claim and of relief applied for, as well as the allegation as the basis of the plaintiff’s claim and the class of persons are with the same characteristics as the plaintiff;
The plaintiff has demonstrated the same unique characteristics of the class of persons which are sufficiently clear for the class to be acknowledged, such as all members bought stocks in the same period of time, etc.;
The class is so numerous that to conduct a case as an ordinary case is impractical and more complicated. The law does not specify the minimum amount of the members of the class. Therefore, the court shall consider the convenience and complication if the members go on ordinary action;
To conduct the case as a class action is more just and efficient than as an ordinary case;
The plaintiff has demonstrated that the plaintiff is a member of a class with the characteristics, interests, including the acquisition of the right to be a member of the class as prescribed by the President of the Supreme Court, if any. The plaintiff, including the plaintiff’s proposed counsel for the class is able to conduct the case to justly and sufficiently protect the rights of the class; and
The lawyer must have enough capability to protect the rights of all the members of the class. Moreover, the lawyer must honestly perform his duties as lawyer.