The Central Administrative Court has overturned an arbitrator's order that the government pay a private firm about Bt11.88 billion over the now-abandoned Hopewell Project.
The court decision is based on a technicality, as it found that Hopewell (Thailand) petitioned the arbitrator too late.
The firm demanded the large amount of compensation from the Transport Ministry and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), accusing the two agencies of unfairly cancelling its contract in 1998.
"By law, the parties in the conflict must petition the arbitrator within 60 days or the Central Administrative Court within five years since the termination of contract took place," the court announced yesterday.
Although the arbitrator had accepted the complaint from Hopewell (Thailand) and delivered a ruling in its favour, the Central Administrative Court yesterday ordered nullification of the arbitrator's order.
The Hopewell Project is a long saga.
It traces back to 1990, when the government came up with plans to develop an elevated road and train system in Bangkok and to utilise SRT land plots efficiently.
The project fell flat. Because of many problems, the government finally decided to terminate the contract.
The Transport Ministry and the SRT also fought against Hopewell (Thailand)'s bid to claim compensation.
Hopewell (Thailand) may appeal against the Central Administrative Court's decision. But any appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court must be filed within 30 days of yesterday's ruling.