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Article

9 Aug 2020

Author:
Inclusive Development International

Thai Appeal Court decision on Mitr Pohl paves the way for Asia’s first transboundary class action on human rights abuses

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31 July 2020

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The transboundary class action Hoy Mai & Others vs. Mitr Phol Co. Ltd. is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. It was filed under Thai laws permitting a class action to be brought by foreign plaintiffs for abuses committed by a Thai company overseas.

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The decision recognizing class status, which was delivered today by the Bangkok South Civil Court, allows the families to bring the case as a group, ensuring access to justice and preventing the laborious and costly process of bringing hundreds of individual lawsuits.

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For Thailand and the region, the decision changes the legal landscape, providing that class action legislation can be used in transboundary cases and to protect some of the region's most vulnerable people.

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It is also a key test of corporate accountability. Mitr Phol is the biggest sugar supplier in the region and has counted some of the world's largest consumer brands, including Nestle, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars Wrigley and Corbion, as past and current customers. While Coca-Cola took initial steps to investigate the allegations against Mitr Phol, it failed to use its leverage to compel the company to provide redress to the victims in Cambodia. Instead, in 2018, Coca-Cola informed Inclusive Development International that it no longer sourced sugar from Mitr Phol. It has never reported the termination of the supply relationship publicly.

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Part of the following timelines

Cambodian farmers file lawsuit in Thailand against sugar producer Mitr Phol over alleged land grabbing

Thailand: Court allows class action to proceed against Thai sugar firm Mitr Pohl brought by 700 Cambodian families alleging land grabbing