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JT International (Thailand) v. Minister of Public Health [Thailand] [May 29, 2014]

Japan Tobacco challenged a Ministry of Health order that required the display of combined picture and text health warning covering at least 85% of at least two of the largest surfaces of the cigarette packs and cartons.  While in the lower court, the tobacco company plaintiff sought and received an order that temporarily suspended the implementation of the pack warnings while the case was ongoing.  

In this decision, following an appeal by the government, the Supreme Administrative Court reversed the lower court’s temporary order.  The Supreme Administrative Court found that the requirements issued are not outside the intended scope of the tobacco control law and noted that the requirements were issued to “protect the people and our youth.” Additionally, the Court held that allowing the regulations to remain in effect while this case is still being decided on the merits will not burden the state or in any way cause problems that will be difficult of remedy after the fact because (a) plaintiffs could restore their production system to its former state without experiencing undue loss, as they will be using their former production system and will not experience any impact to their trademarks or other advantages; and (b) the admissible fact that there are other producers who have been able to comply with the disputed regulations refutes the claim that compliance with the regulations is an insurmountable manufacturing technical problem.

Philip Morris (Thailand) Limited et al. v. Ministry of Public Health [Thailand] [August 23, 2013]

Tobacco manufacturers brought case to stop the Minister of Public Health from implementing a rule that would expand the size of the combined picture and text health warnings from 55% to 85% of the front and back of cigarette packaging. The tobacco companies argued, among other things, that the Minister lacked the legal authority to make the rule, the rule infringed on their property rights, and that the rule did not meet necessity and proportionality standards under administrative law.  The court granted a temporary injunction, preventing implementation of the larger health warnings until the court issues a final decision on the merits of the case.  

Thailand v. Philippines [Thailand] [June 17, 2011]

Thailand appealed a WTO Panel Report finding that Thailand acted inconsistently with trade law by subjecting imported cigarettes to Value Added Tax (VAT) in excess of that applied to domestic cigarettes and in other ways treating imported cigarettes less favorably than like domestic cigarettes. The Appellate Body upheld all of the Panel's findings concerning Thailand's unequal treatment of imported versus domestic cigarettes and recommended that Thailand bring its policies into conformity with its international trade obligations.

Philippines v. Thailand [Thailand] [November 15, 2010]

The Philippines brought several claims against Thailand under GATT 1994 concerning fiscal and customs measures affecting the importation of cigarettes. The disputed measures included customs valuation practices, excise tax, health tax, TV tax, VAT regime, retail licensing requirements and import guarantees imposed upon cigarette importers. Among other things, the WTO Panel report concluded that Thailand acted inconsistently with the GATT 1994 by subjecting imported cigarettes to VAT liability in excess of that applied to domestic cigarettes and in other ways treating imported cigarettes less favorably than like domestic cigarettes.

United States v. Thailand [Thailand] [November 07, 1990]

The United States asked the Panel to recommend that Thailand eliminate its restrictions on cigarette imports and bring its tax laws into conformity with its obligations under GATT. Noting various measures available to Thailand to control the negative consequences of tobacco besides restricting importation, the Panel decided that the restrictions were not an acceptable exception to GATT requirements. However, the Panel found in favor of Thailand with respect to its tax laws, concluding that legislation merely giving the executive the possibility to act inconsistently with GATT could not, by itself, be in violation of GATT.

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