Hopewell petition rejected

Hopewell petition rejected

Govt, SRT must pay B37bn compensation

The Administrative Court on Friday threw out a petition by the Transport Ministry and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) seeking a retrial over a compensation award of 37 billion baht to Hopewell Holdings.

On April 22 this year, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the ministry and SRT to make payment to the firm within 180 days for losses incurred by the company after Thai authorities terminated the contract for the Hopewell elevated highway and railway line two decades ago.

The payment covers 11.88 billion baht, plus an interest rate of 7.5% a year, or around 37 billion baht in total.

Following the court's ruling, the government was urged to seek a retrial with the Administrative Court.

In their petition, the ministry and the SRT claimed the Supreme Administrative Court's order was based on inaccurate information.

However, the Administrative Court ruled that there was no new evidence from the plaintiffs to justify their request for a fresh review. The court also confirmed the Supreme Administrative Court's full authority to hear and rule on the dispute and thus dismissed the petition.

The contract to build the "Hopewell Project" was signed on Nov 9, 1990, when the late Montri Pongpanit was transport minister in the Chatichai Choonhavan government. When the 30-year concession was granted in 1990, investment in the project was estimated at 80 billion baht.

However, construction was only 13% complete by the agreed deadline.

The contract was officially terminated on Jan 27, 1998, by the Chuan Leekpai-led Democrat government, when Suthep Thaugsuban was transport minister.

After the contract's termination, the dispute was heard by the Arbitration Tribunal, which ruled in favour of Hopewell Holdings. The SRT sought the Administrative Court's intervention and the court overruled the Arbitration Tribunal's ruling.

The tribunal lacked the authority to decide on the Hopewell project, because Hopewell filed its complaint after the five-year arbitration complaint period had ended, the court ruled.

However, the SRT lost the legal battle in the Supreme Administrative Court, which upheld the Arbitration Tribunal's decision made over a decade ago.

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