The New Competition Law of Thailand

With the advent of mobile and online commerce, the business environment these days is becoming highly competitive for newly established and industry giants alike. In Thailand, competition may even come from the government-owned and controlled corporations. The business set-up such as in the Kingdom demanded for a more protective and at the same time, a business sustainable climate thus the passing of the more comprehensive Trade Competition Act in 2017, repealing parts of the old law which were passed in 1999.

The Old vs the New Trade Competition Law

Competition and Monopoly
Under the new law, except on some non-prohibited business practices, anti-competitive agreements are prohibited. Restricting competition among businesses through supposed competitors but are now agreeing to establish a price-ceiling to ensure market share between them or agreeing to circumvent the bidding process just to secure projects and profits for their respective companies are not tolerated. Any violations thereof carry hefty fines and or imprisonment.

The Board Members of the Elected Institution
The number of members of the Trade Security and secretary of the TCB board has been significantly reduced too from 8-12 members to 7 members only under the new law. To compare with the previous law where members of the TCB board comes from the government and private sector, the new law requires the members to be experts of certain fields with at least 10 years experience and they must not be affiliated or members of any political and business organizations. In other words, the latest version of the law calls for highly-experienced and independent-minded experts to sit in the board of the TCB.

Also worthy to note is that on the new law, the board now functions as a quasi-judiciary body. Meaning to say, it can now impose fines or may even ask the attorney-general of Thailand to prosecute erring companies.

Furthermore, the board has now an independent budget compared to the old one where the budget was sourced out from the Department of Internal Trade.

Mergers
Notification must now be made by merging companies, pre, and post-merger activities, as this may be used by mergers to consolidate their market share and negotiate on how to divide profits if they are to do a merger since this may completely reduce the fact of fair competition.

Effectivity of the Act

With no doubt, the new Act was formulated to check and halt existing undesirable acts in the business. It was not aimed to kill the dynamics in business but it was created with the intention to avoid monopoly of the market by merging companies and create a tunnel of limited business for this. Whether the Act has served its purposes and objectives or that the Act itself has been lawfully implemented, remains to be seen as it is a new law.

The New Law and the Network of Lawyers

Legal consult, especially those not from Thailand, must also be carried out since a huge part of the law has been specially formulated for them.