The Thai government will file a lawsuit against Walter Bau, a German company, for requesting a German court order to impound a royal aircraft in relation to the legal dispute between the firm and the Thai government, according to Thailand’s head prosecutor, Attorney General Julasing Wasantasing.
Mr Julasing said Walter Bau, which is claiming damages from the Thai government, pressed ahead until the court ordered the seizure of the aircraft used by Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn despite the aircraft having no connection with the dispute between the Thai government and the firm. The case is in the appeals process.
He said the dispute between Walter Bau and the Thai government has not yet ended, pending the appeals process. Therefore it was not proper for the company to claim that Thailand had failed to pay damages.
The Attorney-General said a legal team has been set up to handle the case.
The Boeing 737 passenger aircraft was seized at Munich airport in southern Germany last Tuesday in a commercial dispute dating back over two decades, between Thailand and the now-insolvent German construction firm which was building a road link between Bangkok and Bangkok’s then international airport, Don Mueang.
The German construction firm Dywidag helped build the 26-kilometer roadway. Dywidag later merged with Walter Bau in 2001, and in 2005, Walter Bau went under and was soon thereafter partially acquired by an Austrian company.
Walter Bau is a claimant seeking damages from the Thai government in respect of an alleged breach of the Don Mueang Tollway contract since 2005 and in accordance with the 2002 Treaty between Thailand and Germany concerning the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments.
On July 1, 2009, the arbitral tribunal issued an award against Thailand to compensate damages to Walter Bau in the amount of around 30 million Euros plus interest and legal costs of around 2 million Euros.
As the United States is party to the 1958 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the so-called ‘New York Convention’), Walter Bau brought the matter before the United States District Court, Southern District of New York on March 26 this year seeking enforcement of the arbitral award.
The Southern District Court of New York ruled in favour of Walter Bau and the Thai Government, through its Office of the Attorney General, is in the process of appealing the Court’s decision.
Concurrently, Walter Bau filed a claim with the German Civil Court seeking enforcement of the arbitral award.
According to the Thai Foreign Ministry’s website, the German court ordered the seizure of the assets of the Thai government without seeking information from the Thai side which led to the temporary impounding of the airplane owned by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, which was parked in Munich Airport, on July 12, under the mistaken belief that the airplane belonged to the Thai government.
However, the Landshut State Court of Germany initially ruled on Wednesday that airplane was privately owned and not an asset of the Thai government.
It said the ruling was based on an assurance from Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation and the plane’s certificate of registration which both affirmed that the Thai government did not own the plane but that it belongs to the Crown Prince.
But the court said its decision was only preliminary so a bond was required, of 20 million euros (US$28.2 million), to be deposited as a bank guarantee. When the court finally establishes that the aircraft does belong to the Crown Prince, it will return the bond.
Mr Julasing said he had been given an audience with the Crown Prince who expressed concern that the impounding of his plane would mislead the public to understand that he had done something wrong resulting in the plane being impounded.
The Crown Prince did not want the Thai government to post the bond but suggested that the government should contest the case, he said.
Mr Julasing said it was expected that the court would deliver its final ruling on the ownership of the airplane in August.