The Ministry of Interior proposed its draft Announcement on Special Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Stay in Thailand (No. ..)  B.E. …. (the “Draft Announcement”) to the Cabinet for its approval and that the Draft Announcement was approved in principle by the Cabinet on 23 March 2021.

Since the government has allowed foreigners, who travel by cruises or sport ships (yachts), to the Kingdom are able to apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV) at the immigration checkpoint according to the Announcement on Special Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Stay in the Kingdom dated 30 October 2020 and its amendment dated 9 December 2020, from such, there were many foreigners traveled to the Kingdom under such special program and that some more of them have already registered to travel to the Kingdom under the same visa program.

four boats on sea

Due to the current situation of the COVID-19 epidemic which has been improved, Thailand is currently trying to speed up its economic recovery especially in the tourist sector, the Ministry of Interior then proposed the Draft Announcement to the Cabinet in order to extend the period of time for enforcing of such STV program to be until 30 September 2021 subject to strictly adhere to the measures preventing communicable diseases.

A draft amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code Act (No. .. ) B.E. …. (“Draft Act”) was approved by the Cabinet as proposed by the Council of State and the Draft Act will be submitted to the Coordinating Committee of the House of Representatives and then submitted to the House of Representatives for further consideration before becoming to be enforced.

The key issue of the Draft Act is to revise interest rates to be consistent with the present economic circumstance as follows:

  1. The interest rate not being clearly specified by any juristic act or by any provision of law shall be revised from the rate of 7.5% per annum (Section 7) to 3.5% per annum. This interest rate can be adjusted by promulgating of a royal decree.
  2. The interest rate for default in payment of debt shall be revised from the rate of 7.5% (Section 224) per annum to 5% per annum.
  3. The interest rate for default in payment of debt in case of payment by installments shall be calculated only from principal amount of such installment.
  4. The provisions of this Draft Act shall be applied to interest which is due in payment from the date of their enforcement. Those provisions shall not cause effect to the interest charged before such enforcement but shall cause effect to the interest calculating based on all principal amount of debt as agreed between the parties to become void immediately once the Draft Act becomes enforced.

The Department of Intellectual Property proposed for amendment to the current Copyright Act in order to mainly solve the issue of copyright infringement on the internet and to meet the international standards especially the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCO) in which Thailand is required to enter into being a member.

Such amendment to the current Copyright Act has recently been considered by the Legal, Justice and Police Committee (“Committee”) of the Upper House Level, key’s consideration of the Committee for being used during the meeting of the Upper House Level are as follows:

engineer designing medical equipment
  1. The takedown notice shall be arranged in writing and shall include as least details as follows:
    • The copyright owner’s name and contactable address, telephone number or email address
    • The copyrighted work claiming as being infringed or examples of them on the service provider’s website
    • Sufficient computer data claiming that it has been created by infringer and data’s location or location where such computer data has been found so that the service provider is able to remove such infringing computer data from its system or suppress accessing into such computer data except as specified therein.
    • The content showing warrants that such claim is true.
    • The copyright owner’s signature or electronic signature.
  2. The Department of Intellectual Property should consider having those conditions of the take-down notice specified in the ancillary law for easy revision other than having the same specified in the Copyright Act itself.
  3. The term in regard to the computer data’s location or location where such data has been found is still not clear. It should be revised to be a source for dissemination of infringing data and also the term in regard to notice should be indicated to be as the notice in an electronic form or electronic written document.
  4. Takedown measure shall not cause-effect to other computer data which is not related to such infringing data and if that causes an effect, the protection and remedy measure for such other computer data shall be considered and provided.
  5. The copyright issue is an issue among the private sectors. It should be considered a compoundable offense.
  6. As copyright work can be protected without any registration. Once the protection period has lapsed, the means to allow the public knowing about that should be considered.

The Cabinet approved a draft Act for Repealing of Unnecessary and Duplicated Laws B.E. …. (“Draft Act”) as proposed by the Council of State. The Draft Act will be submitted to the Coordinating Committee of the House of Representatives for further proceedings. The Cabinet also assigned the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Interior to accept recommendation of the Urgent Law Reform Committee in regard to considering the Wild Elephant Protection Act B.E. 2464 and its 2nd amendment B.E. 2503 to be repealed.

view of elephant in water

Key objective of the Draft Act is to repeal the laws which have no longer been necessary and inconsistent with the present circumstances or duplicated with the more recently enacted laws. The laws which will be repealed under this Draft Act are as follows:

  1. Training and Disciplining Certain Types of Child Act B.E. 2479, and Training and Disciplining Certain Types of Child Act (No. 2) B.E. 2501
  2. Emergency Decree on Controlling and Administrative Operating of Gold Mining B.E. 2483;
  3. Electric Power Promotion Act B.E. 2484;
  4. Procedures Against Person Disseminating News Threatening Alliance Between Thailand and its Amity during State of War Act B.E. 2488;
  5. Procedures Restraining Exorbitant Price on Trading with Government B.E. 2491; and
  6. Optical Disc Production Act B.E. 2548.

The Cabinet has approved a Draft Act on Disciplinary Fine (B.E. ….) (“Draft Act”) on 2 February 2021. The Draft Act will consider as a main legislation to consider and establish a new penalty measure for those who violate or fail to comply with the law which are not considered as serious offences. This new penalty measure is called a “Disciplinary Fine” in which it will require an offender to pay the fine as specified by the law. The said fine is not considered as criminal punishment and it will have no imprisonment or confinement applied in place of the fine punishment. Besides, the offence will not be recorded in the criminal record of the offender.  The adoption of such new measure will be used in place of the administrative fine in order to create the same standard for the fine system of the laws.

Summaries of the Draft Act are as follow:

  • The “disciplinary fine” will be defined as ordering a disciplinary offender to pay a fine as punishment not exceeding the amount as specified by the law.
  • The “disciplinary offence” will be defined as an act or an act by negligence which is a violation of the law or non-compliance with the law and that law specifies the punishment as the disciplinary fine.
  • The “fine for disciplinary punishment” will be defined as a fine that must be paid to the state in which it is a legal measure to be in place of the criminal punishment against an offender who does not conduct a serious offence without seriously affecting to the public order or good morals of the people or without affecting to the public at large (“Fine”).
  • The Fine will be paid in the amount as determined by the government official or the court only.
  • Some provisions of the Penal Code will be applied mutatis mutandis in determination of the disciplinary offence (i.e. general provisions, applications of penal law, criminal liabilities, attempted offences and principals and supporters).
  • In determination of the disciplinary fine punishment, it must consider the severity of impact to the community or society, benefits that the offender or another person received from the disciplinary offence and economic status of the offender and that the Fine can be made by installments.
low section of man against sky
  • In case that the offender is not able to pay the Fine, the court may order the offender to work for social services or to do other public benefit works instead of paying such Fine. In addition, if the offender commits an offence on account of poverty or necessity, the court may specify the Fine lower than as specified by the law or the court may just warn the offender without the Fine charged.
  • The government official of the responsible authority, who is responsible for the enforcement of law, will be a person who has the power to apply the disciplinary, including to seek for the facts and gather evidence regarding the offence. However, such government official will have no power to arrest or detain the offender and when the Fine is paid within the specified period, the disciplinary fine will be lapsed.
  • In case that the Fine is not paid within the specified period, the government official will submit the case to the prosecutor for further prosecution in the court.
  • According to the disciplinary offence case, the provincial court will have its jurisdiction over such case and the court proceedings will be in accordance with the regulations of the President of the Supreme Court. In addition, the offender will be entitled to appeal the court verdict only against the legal issue and the judgement of the Appeal Court will become final.

This Draft Act will be passed to the Coordinating Committee of the House of Representatives before submitting to the Parliament for its consideration and approval before publishing in the Royal Gazette and then become enforced.

The Draft Act on Amendment to the Penal Code (no. ..) B.E. …. on the part of offence of abortion (“Draft Act”) has recently been published in the Royal Gazette as the Act on Amendment to the Penal Code (No. 28) B.E. 2564 on 6 February 2021 (“Act”) and it became enforced on 7 February 2021.

The revised provision to Section 301 of the Penal Code as specified in the Act will not penalize a woman, with gestational ages up to 12 weeks, who has terminated a pregnancy by herself or allowed another person to do so.

crop pitiful black woman embracing knees on bed

The revised provision to Section 305 of the Penal Code as also specified in the Act exempts the offence of abortion for medical professionals, who perform so under one of the conditions as follows:

  1. It is necessary to be done due to the risk of causing danger to physical or mental health of the woman once she continues her pregnancy;
  2. It is necessary to be done due to the significant risk of being affected by physical or mental disability to serious disability if a fetus is born;
  3. The woman is pregnant on account of commission of the offence relating to sexuality;
  4. The woman, with gestational ages upto 12 weeks, insists on terminating her pregnancy; or
  5. The woman, with gestational ages over 12 weeks but not exceed 20 weeks, insists on terminating her pregnancy after examined and received alternative consultation from the medical professional in accordance with the rules and procedures as announced by the Ministry of Public Health with the advice of the Medical Council and the relevant authorities under the Act on Preventing and Solving the Problem of Adolescent Pregnancy.

However, during the 12th House of Representatives meeting (the 2nd annual ordinary session) on 20 January 2021, the Extraordinary Commission (“Commission”) had made certain observations about the Draft Act and the meeting finally voted in favor of the said observations.

According to the revised provision to Section 301 of the Penal Code, the Commission viewed that it is possible that the woman may cause herself to be aborted by any means not under the supervision of the medial professional (i.e. consuming illegal drugs to cause herself to be aborted or conducting illegal abortion). Hence, the relevant government authorities should take actions against such problems by stating controlling measures, encouraging the woman to enter into the public health service system and facilitating access to quality drugs in order to ensure the safe termination of pregnancy.

As for the alternative consultation system under Section 305, the Commission suggested that all government service centers should provide (i) an advisory service on alternatives and comprehensive problems solving to terminate or not terminate a pregnancy and (ii) a referral and continuous care system to assist and look after the woman to be able to access the service easily.

two person doing surgery inside room

Furthermore, the Commission viewed that this revision to the Penal Code is a part of solving the problem of unplanned pregnancy by termination of pregnancy in which it is an end-to-end problem solving. Therefore, all responsible sectors should coordinate with each other actively by taking care of their own family together with providing knowledge and understanding about sex education in an education institution, including providing serious and comprehensive birth control.

The Cabinet acknowledged the abovementioned observations of the Commission. The observations will be passed to the Ministry of Public Health together with the relevant authorities for their consideration and summarize the result of consideration or overall performance before delivering the same to the Secretariat of the Cabinet in order to return to the Cabinet for its consideration. The provision of offence of abortion then may be revised again after the said reconsideration of the Cabinet.

The Ministry of Finance had proposed a Draft Ministerial Regulation Regarding Permission on Liquor Sales (No. ..) B.E. …., Draft Ministerial Regulation Regarding Permission on Tobacco Sales (No. ..) B.E. …., and Draft Ministerial Regulation Regarding Permission on Playing Card Sales (No. ..) B.E. …. (“Draft Ministerial Regulations”) to the Cabinet in order to add electronic means for applying and granting of liquor, tobacco and playing card permits and licenses to be in accordance with the development plan regarding electronic integrated government service system (Biz Portal) and the Cabinet’s resolution on 2 April 2019 approval in principle for issuing of documents of government agencies via electronic means.

The Biz Portal is the government’s service system providing comprehensive electronic services for issuing certificates, licenses and documents with a link to the database system and an e-Service system of government agencies via biz.govchannel.go.th where people are enabled to complete their electronic transactions without the need to physically contact the government agencies.  

happy woman shopping online at home

Summaries of the Draft Ministerial Regulations are as follows:

  1. The Draft Ministerial Regulation Regarding Permission on Liquor Sales (No. ..) B.E. ….

It adds electronic transaction mediums between applicants and excise officials in regard to issuing and granting of permits and licenses for selling of liquor such as notification of examination and granting result, amendment to applications and submission of additional documents or evidence.

  • The Draft Ministerial Regulation Regarding Permission on Tobacco Sales (No. ..) B.E. …. and the Draft Ministerial Regulation Regarding Permission on Playing Card Sales (No. ..) B.E. ….

Both add electronic transaction mediums between applicants and excise officials as the same as those of the Draft Ministerial Regulation Regarding Permission on Liquor Sales (No. ..) B.E. …. .

Besides, in case of renewal, the condition for submitting such renewal application, i.e. 90 days prior to its expiration date, will be eliminated in order to provide flexibility in applying for the same.  

The Cabinet granted its approval in principle of the Draft Ministerial Regulations on 26 January 2021 and those will be passed to the Council of State for its consideration together with consultation with other relevant authorities. Subsequently, it will be returned to the Cabinet for its reconsideration and approval before submitted to the Parliament for its final consideration.

Due to the effect from the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry of Labour then had proposed a Draft Ministerial Regulation on the Social Security Fund Contribution Rates (No. ..) B.E. …. (the “Draft Ministerial Regulation”) to the Cabinet in order to alleviate the suffering of insured employees affected by such outbreak of COVID-19.

Summaries of the Draft Ministerial Regulation are as follows:

  1. The rates of contribution schedule attached to the Ministerial Regulation on the Social Security Fund Contribution Rates B.E. 2563 will be revised to the new rates.
  2. Such new rates will be valid for 2 months starting from 1 February 2021 to 31 March 2021.
  3. The insured employees under Section 33 of the Social Security Act B.E. 2533 will be entitled to a reduction of social security fund contribution to be at the rate of 0.5% of their wage’s rates. For the employers and the government, the rates of contribution are still the same, i.e. 3% and 2.75% of the insured employees’ wage rates, respectively.
  4. The contribution for benefits related to injury, sickness, incapability, death and parturition will be at the rate of 0.2% of the insured employees’ wage rates applied to all insured employees, employers and government.
  5. In regard to the contribution for benefits related to child and old age, the government’s contribution rate will be reduced as 2.3% of the insured employee’s wage rates whereas the employers’ contribution rate will be reduced as 2.7% of the insured employees’ wage rates and the employees’ contribution rate will be reduced as 0.2% of their wage rates.
  6. In addition, the contribution for benefits related to unemployment will be reduced as 0.25% of the insured employee’s wage rates for the government and as 0.1% of the insured employee’s wage rates for the employers and the insured employees.

This Draft Ministerial Regulation was approved by the Cabinet on 26 January 2021 and is expected to be enacted and become enforced shortly.

The Cabinet approved a Draft Credit Information Business Operation Act (No. ..) B.E. …. (the “Draft Act”) as proposed by the Ministry of Finance (the “MOF”) on 22 December 2020 in order to revise the Credit Information Business Operation Act B.E. 2524.

Summary of the Draft Act are as follows:

  • The main purpose of this Draft Act is to allow entrepreneurs who operate as intermediate entity in providing credit facility in forms of new transactions or financial innovations (Final Technology) which are rapidly expanding in Thailand (the “Entrepreneurs”) to be members of a credit information company in which such Entrepreneurs are able to send credit information of their SMEs and start-up businesses to the credit information company enabling the said Entrepreneurs to have their financial history information in its system. This will allow such Entrepreneurs having more opportunities to access to legal sources of fund, gain financial support or loans from other registered financial institutions in the future. This will also, in the meantime, reduce numbers of illegal loan debt.
  • The Draft Act will revise procedures for disclosing information of credit information or credit score (“Information”). In regard to the said revised procedures, the credit information company will need to notify in writing to its customers (owners of the Information) within 30 days from the date of disclosing or providing such Information, except for collective Information of financial institutions or Entrepreneurs that the credit information company has admitted as its members.
  • The credit information company, information controllers, information processors, members, customers, persons who know Information from working or performing a duty at the credit information company or persons who know Information from the above-mentioned entities/persons shall be basically prohibited to disclose the Information.
  • A service user shall not disclosure or disseminate the Information to the others who do not have the right to be informed and that it shall use the Information for specified purposes only, such as using the Information for the purposes of credit analysis and credit card issuance.
  • Entrepreneurs will be able to disclose or provide Information to its members for the purpose of credit analysis on behalf of the credit facility provider only.
  • Entrepreneurs will be able to use its customers’ Information obtained from the credit information company in order to create a credit model. If such Entrepreneurs use the Information other than for the purpose of credit analysis on behalf of the credit facility provider and other than for the purpose of risk management for the credit facility provider, such Entrepreneurs will be penalized by the provision under this Draft Act.   
  • Entrepreneurs will be required to explain the reasons for refusal of the services or for increasing of service charges, including sources of customers’ Information to such customers in writing.
  • Financial institutions, members or service users, who do not explain the reasons for refusal of the services or for increasing of service charges, including sources of customers’ Information to such customers in writing, will be penalized by the provision under this Draft Act.

This Draft Act will be submitted to the Parliament for its consideration and approval before publishing in the Royal Gazette and then become enforced.