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Chaninat & Leeds Co., Ltd.
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Thailand passed a new amendment to the law affecting guarantees, suretyships and third-party mortgages. The amendment will take effect February 11, 2015.
 
The new regulations under the amendment aim to better protect the rights of individual guarantors and mortgagors. Some of the notable lender regulations include that banks must notify the guarantor within 60 days if the borrower is in default, and banks are required to pursue borrowers of defaulted loans before pursuing guarantors. Additionally, to be valid and enforceable, guarantees will be required to specify the guarantor’s obligation including duration and amount.
 
This reduction on a guarantor’s obligation has caused some analysts and bankers to voice their concern that banks will be discouraged to extend loans especially in the international borrowing and business sectors.  The Thai Bankers’ Association is reportedly planning to submit a counter proposal with suggested adjustments to the amendment.

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Thailand surrogacy has been a widely discussed topic due to a series of recent, high profile news stories. The stories of baby Gammy, who was born with Down syndrome and allegedly abandoned by his Australian parents, and of a ring of up to 21 surrogacy babies fathered by the same man, sparked international attention and fast tracked legislative reform.
 
Thailand does not currently have any laws that specifically regulate commercial surrogacy in Thailand. However, the recent controversies have forced the National Council for Peace and Order to endorse a draft Thai surrogacy law. The proposed surrogacy law is now being deliberated in the Thai Parliament.
 
Commercial surrogacy is a controversial issue worldwide for a number of reasons. Without sufficient regulation, there are concerns that surrogate mothers may be victims of human trafficking. There are also concerns regards the lack of screening intended parents. Since many of the involved parents are gay male couples, there are also questions over traditional morality and gay rights. Many are also concerned about the health risks to surrogate mothers.
 
Related Documents:
1)      Thailand Draft Surrogacy Act – English Translation: http://www.thailawforum.com/thailand-draft-surrogacy-law/
2)      Thailand Medical Facilities Act: http://www.thailawforum.com/database1/sanatorium-act%20.html
3)      Thailand Anti-Human Trafficking Act: http://www.thailawforum.com/database1/thailand-anti-human-trafficking-act.html
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The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand’s Department of National Parks plans to reclaim land in Phuket’s Sirinat National Park. Up to 370 plots of this public land has allegedly been illegally claimed and developed by landowners abusing Sor Kor 1 land deeds.  
 
Thailand land laws forbid private deeds on public lands; several hoteliers and real estate tycoons may be included in those charged.
 
At least two local Phuket government offices are also suspected in the corruption, according to the Bangkok Post: the Sirinat Park Office and Provincial Land Office. Officials from both offices disagree about who exactly is to blame for the issuance of the forged land deeds.

Read more at: http://www.thailand-lawyer.com/thailand-attorney/thai-government-investigates-forged-land-title-deeds-in-phuket/
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The Thailand Revenue Department has announced that Thailand will assist with enforcing compliance with the USA's Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) by the end of 2014 pursuant to an agreement with the USA.  
 
FACTA is a US federal law which requires Americans, including those living abroad, to report any financial accounts and assets held in foreign countries to the US government.
 
The Thai Revenue Department and the US Treasury will be required to share financial information pursuant to the agreement. Financial information will include account banks, mutual funds and life insurance.
 
Another 80 countries are in talks with the US regarding similar agreements to assist with implementing the FATCA  legislation.
 

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US and UK Lawyers Dominating 3rd World Business Law

Developing countries now account for over 50% of the world’s GDP and trade between them is booming. However, two developed countries still retain huge power over their cross-border business – America and Britain and in turn US and UK lawyers, reported The Economist.

US and UK law firms have the huge advantage of using the world’s “reserve law”.  In a world-wide survey by Queen Mary University in London in 2010 it was found that 40% of general counsels and legal-department heads most frequently did business under English law while 22% used American law. Other country’s laws did not even make a significant share in the survey.

The biggest advantage for foreign countries using UK and US law is that they have common-law systems with centuries of binding precedent. International company head-offices remain in London and New York, using the local law, to avoid their native laws. The companies manage to avoid the slow law courts, civil laws and nasty errors their own countries’ laws.

Cross-border businesses are however, starting to use private arbitration more and more. Private arbitration allows confidentiality, speed and lower costs than a court case. In this case companies tend to look towards Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong for their arbitration needs.

English law is used in the majority of global arbitration cases, but a growing trend in South America could change that. Brazil has created its own process of arbitration which seems to be working incredibly well for the country. This may point to American and British law firms losing out, but in the long run it may have a worse effect on developing countries who will no longer be pressured into improving their own courts and laws.

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Big news from the US
FCC approves new net neutrality rules

+Washington Post : The Federal Communications Commission has voted against net neutrality, opening the possibility of Internet service providers charging websites for higher-quality delivery of their content to American consumers.

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Google Loses EU Privacy Suit

Google Inc. can now be forced to delete links to private information about individuals on the internet according to a ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice on Tuesday, reported the Wall Street Journal.

The recent ruling may have a large effect on search-engine operators and may change the balance between web privacy and free speech in Europe claims the WSJ. The EU Court of Justices decision sets a strong legal precedent across the European Union.

The Court also ruled that search engines are "controllers" of an individual’s personal data when it appears online. Individuals in affected countries can now ask a search engine to omit certain links in search results against their name eg. news articles, court judgments and other documents. The search engines can be forced to remove the links if a National Authority decides that there isn’t sufficient public interest in the particular contested information.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes members - Facebook Inc., Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft , stated that the ruling "opens the door to large scale private censorship in Europe," adding that "our concern is it could also be misused by politicians or others with something to hide who could demand to have information taken down."

Free speech advocates say that the ruling could seriously impede free expression, as search engines are forced to remove private information from their results in Europe.

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Thoughts?
Should lawyers consider taking Bitcoin as a form of payment from clients?

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Florida May Ban Foreign Laws in Courts

A bill has been sent to the Florida state legislature, proposing that foreign laws be banned in the state’s courts for certain family-related cases.

The bill would restrict courts and tribunals from taking foreign law and legal codes into account when dealing with family law. Such cases would include; divorce, alimony, division of marital assets, child support and child custody.

State Senator Alan Hays, who proposed the bill, said that it wouldn’t affect international trade or be viewed negatively by foreigners.
“For those people who want to come to America we welcome them, but when you come to America you’re going to be governed on American laws and when you come to Florida you’re going to be governed on Florida laws,” Hays said. “We dare not apologize for that, folks. This is a very good bill. It’s an all-American bill.”

The bill, however, has been blasted by the Muslim community, who feel that it is targeted at Sharia religious law which is followed in some Islamic countries. Protestors of the bill have been sending letters to the lawmakers pleading for them to reject the bill claiming that it would marginalize minority American groups.

Six other US states already have laws restricting foreign laws in state courts - Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee. Will Florida become the seventh state?

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Banks Sued on Claims of Fixing Price of Gold
 
Five large banks, allegedly part of the “London gold fix” are being sued by 20 plaintiffs in co-ordinated lawsuits at the Federal District Court in Manhattan. Private citizens, hedge funds and public investors like the Alaska Electrical Pension Fund claim that the banks have been using their financial sway to fix the price of gold and reap the undue benefits, reports Deal Book.
 
The gold fix system is used by dealers, central banks and mining companies to trade gold in all its forms. The plaintiffs are suggesting that the system is corrupt. One claim is that the member banks (Barclays, Scotiabank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Société Générale) use the information exchanged during the trade gold call to manipulate the prices to their benefit before publishing the information to the market.
 
The American Judge is still deliberating on whether to separate the cases into two groups - those that trade physical gold and those that trade gold futures. The Judge will announce her decision at end of May.
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