Legal Updates for April 2022

Thai Arbitration Institute Introduces New Expedited Procedure

The Thai Arbitration Institute ("TAI") is one of the most prominent arbitral institutions in Thailand. On 1 October 2021, amendments to its arbitration rules came into effect, providing for an expedited arbitration procedure ("expedited procedure") in circumstances where: 

  1. the parties to the dispute mutually agree to use the expedited procedure; or
  2. where the relevant arbitration agreement has been entered into after 30 September 2021 – the amount in dispute does not exceed Baht 5 million, and one of the parties to the dispute files a request to use the expedited procedure.

In this Update, we discuss and comment on the key features of the expedited procedure, namely (i) appointing a sole arbitrator; (ii) allowing for documents-only arbitrations; and (iii) shortening the timeframes for the close of proceedings and the issuing of the award. 

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COVID-19 and the Journey to Recovery - Exploring the Legal and Practical Issues in the Transport of Vaccines

In recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the unifying and defining experience of the international community. The global journey appears now to be entering smoother waters, with countries headed more confidently towards stabilisation and recovery. One of the key components of the recovery plans being adopted by most countries is a concerted drive to provide vaccinations for their citizens and residents. As such, it should be expected that vaccines will continue to be in high demand across the globe.

The distribution of vaccines remains a profound challenge in the continued fight against COVID-19. How are they being transported? What are the transport requirements of specific vaccines? What are the relevant regulatory and contractual issues that may arise in the transport of vaccines? These are the questions that are of particular relevance to members of the shipping and transport industry, against the backdrop of still fraught supply chains, globally. The transport of vaccines is further complicated by the fact that most vaccines must be stored at very low temperatures, require deft handling, and have limited shelf-life. This not only requires transporters and handlers to be well-versed in cold-chain logistics, it also calls for close cooperation and coordination between those involved at the different stages of the distribution journey.

In this article, we take a look at these issues, particularly from the perspective of the Southeast Asian region from which we have invited invaluable input from the Rajah & Tann Asia network member law practices. The article explores the following: 

  1. Transportation requirements for selected vaccines;
  2. Practical issues in the various stages of the transport of vaccines;
  3. International guidelines or standards governing the transport of vaccines; and
  4. Contractual issues which may arise in the transportation process.
New Guidelines on Unfair Trade Practices

The unfair trade practices language in Section 57 of Thailand's Trade Competition Act B.E. 2560 (2017) (the "Act") serves as a catch-all provision prohibiting practices which are unfair and cause damage to other business operators, regardless of whether the business operator is market dominant or not. With effect from 19 February 2022, the Trade Competition Commission has issued a new notification prescribing guidelines on the consideration of unfair trade practices in respect of acts causing damage to other business operators ("Guidelines"), repealing and replacing a 2018 notification. 

Business operators should be mindful of risk areas under Section 57 of the Act as they may be unaware of the Act's application to non-dominant operators. The Guidelines provide some guidance in this regard, as well as guidance on steps which can be taken to review the defensibility of business practices such as trade programs. This Update highlights some of the key elements of the Guidelines.