EARTH Thailand

Court rejects Wax Garbage’s appeal to alleviate sentences

Seizures of polluter’s properties will continue, yet plaintiffs still received no compensation

EARTH REPORT 21 February 2023

The Court of Appeal held a hearing on the pollution dispute case between locals of Nampu subdistrict, Ratchaburi province as plaintiffs, against Wax Garbage Recycling Center Company and its owner. 

The court did not make a ruling on the plaintiff's appeal, but rejected the factory’s (defendant) plea for alleviation of sentence on seizure of properties. This means the seizure of the factory’s properties, including lands, will continue.

This saga of appeal is the aftermath of one of the most historic citizen’s victories in Thailand’s legal milieu. Back in 2017, locals of Nampu subdistrict, Ratchaburi province, western Thailand, sued the Wax Garbage Recycle Center for causing pollution, damaging agricultural lands and health, which began over 20 years ago when the factory arrived in the community.

In 2020, the Civil Court ruled in favor of the locals, ordering the company to compensate locals and restore the environment. Compensation of locals would depend on the extent of damage in their agricultural products, and the level of heavy metal found in their blood.

While happy about the overall victory, locals state that the compensation the court gave them is too low. The court’s ruling had used the criteria for disasters including drought to calculate agricultural losses for locals. This meant a drastic reduction in the compensation from what was demanded in the initial lawsuit. 

As an example, plaintiff 1, longan farmer Tanu Ngamyingyuad, lost an entire farm of longan and could no longer pursue that livelihood. He had demanded around 18.8 million baht in compensation; the court ruled that he will receive 666,425 baht. A reduction of around 28 folds. 

The second plaintiff saw his demanded compensation reduced from around 9 million baht to around 500,000. The third, a reduction from around 1.1 million to 135,000.

Today the Court of Appeal had made no decision regarding the plaintiff’s appeal. A date will later be set for the ruling to be announced.

In any case, since the court had rejected Wax Garbage’s plea for sentence alleviation, the company will see more of its properties being seized and then sold publicly. The reasons for the seizures of property is because the defendant had declared that it has no money to pay for compensation to plaintiffs.

The seizure of properties will be conducted by the plaintiff's lawyer and the Legal Execution Department. 

Currently, 19 plots of land had already been seized, valued at 20 million baht.

To date, no money has been made available to the victims as compensation.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, speaking after today’s hearing, observed that in this case, since the Civil Court had already made its ruling, that ruling should still be effective. Now that the defendants had made the money available in accordance to the ruling, the court should make that money available to the victims to end their suffering, even though the case is still being appealed.

As for the locals, they express happiness that the court did not accept the factory's plea for sentence alleviation. In any case, they reiterate that as the compensation payment becomes more delayed, the worse the impacts they face become.