Vira Kammee is a leading litigator with a broad practice encompassing criminal, civil, administrative, bankruptcy and business re-organisation, corporate, banking & finance, as well as real estate development and construction for various corporate clients. He speaks to Lawyer Monthly about how he is impacted the legal industry in Thailand.
You have set precedents for The Supreme Court of Thailand; can you give an example? How did you prepare for this?
I have two examples as follows:
1. “Snoopy” litigation on the issue of copyright ownership. Copyright of “Snoopy” was not registered in Thailand but was registered in the USA. Under the Thai law then, registration of copyright materials was not available. The task then was to see how to rely on the trademark registration of “Snoopy” and filing a trademark infringement and to use the outcome of the trademark infringement to support the copyright dispute.At the first instance, the court delivered a decision in favour of our client and subsequently the decision was taken up to the Court of Appeal, where the court initially declined to hear the case on the grounds that the issue was double jeopardy. The court reversed the appeal court decision and upheld the first instance court on the ground that the subject matter was different: one in the matter of trademark infringement and the other was in relation to the copyright. The final outcome was in favour of our client.
2. In customs: the ‘fair market value’ issue, where an import duty was imposed on the ‘genuine’ spare part and the ‘pseudo’, which the customs official appraised that the ‘fair market value’ of the genuine and pseudo to be of the same price/value.
Often these situations are fairly new precedents in Thailand especially when it is concerning foreign clients. With laws in certain jurisdictions are advanced and they lodge a trial in Thailand, there is a challenging balance to be drawn from what is law in certain jurisdictions and the lack or non-existence of such laws in Thailand. It is a difficult balance but has been achieved in the above two matters discussed.
What are common reasons behind litigation for company reorganisations and how would you advise companies to avoid this?
A good understanding of the nature of the business is a fundamental element in reorganisation matters. It is not merely a matter of litigation but considering the time and not to mention the amount of money involved in a litigation process, it is important to ensure the route chosen is one that is beneficial for the client. A balance must be drawn from the counselling and advocacy.
As a frequent guest speaker at conferences, what do you think are current important messages to get across to others in your profession?
The legal profession is one that must be taken seriously. As lawyers, we must have the mind set on the client’s interest at heart. In doing so we must take the time to understand the client’s needs and what is the best possible cause of action available to them. A balance must be drawn between remedy and preventive measures. A mutual agreement is sometimes a path to be taken to ensure the client has better and quicker outcome of a dispute.
A balance must be drawn between real life and the rule of law on a fair and equitable treatment between the parties involved as always. The evolving of humans in a very capitalist environment needs a good set of rule of law to bring a daily work life balance throughout the paths of legal profession.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As lawyers it is my strong belief that we must always adhere to the Legal professional ethics. Having these strong codes entrenched in our legal profession ethics code ensures that we act professionally and always strive to deliver the best service to our client. That is our primary duty to our clients.
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Over more than three decades of practice, Vira Kammee has advocated on matters such as labour, administrative, intellectual property, civil and criminal laws. He appears frequently in the Court of Justice and the Administrative Court as lead counsel, and he has represented many local and foreign institutions in corporate and commercial dispute resolution matters. In addition to practicing law, Vira has gained considerable experience in teaching law students and supervising lawyers of the firm. Vira combines dispute work with advisory work in relation to very complex real estate transactions. With vast experience in his field, Vira is often invited as a speaker at conferences, both in Thailand and abroad, in the areas of business reorganisation relating to cross-border joint venture transactions; compliance with the Foreign Business Act; as well as real estate and dispute resolution.
SCL Law Group was formed in 2005 by a group of highly talented and energetic lawyers with a wealth of knowledge, experience and commitment to serving clients.