TT Talk - New Thai law on salvage

Spica Services (Thailand) have circulated a very informative summary by Pramuanchai Law Office C0 Ltd (Bangkok) on the new Thai Act on Marine Salvage, B.E.2550 (2007):

The Thai Act on Marine Salvage, B.E. 2550 (2007)

Marine salvage is not a new matter for Thailand, but in the long history of Thai law Thailand has neither ratified any international convention on salvage, nor enacted a domestic law to govern marine salvage. Until this year, the Bill on Marine Salvage was passed and came into effect on 31 October 2007. The Act comprises of 34 Sections. This is part of the developments of Thai maritime law.

Basically, the Act is influenced by the International Convention on Salvage 1989. The purpose of enacting the Act is to establish the common practice of salvage and at the same time, to set the rights, obligations and liabilities of each party involved in marine salvage in line with the international convention. One of the crucial principles of the Act is to encourage marine salvage operations and ensure that adequate incentives are available to persons who undertake salvage operations in respect of vessels and other property in danger. Since the Salvage Convention 1989 was used by the draftsmen as the model of the Act, it is not surprised to note that most of the main principles of the Act are in line with the proviso of the Convention. Nevertheless, those main issues of the Act are summarized here below:

  • The term salvage operation is defined by Section 4 of the Act. The definition mirrors Article 1 (a) of the Salvage Convention 1989. Excluded from the Act by virtue of Section 5 are salvage operations performed in inland waters without involvement of seagoing vessels, warships, noncommercial state-owned vessels, platforms and drilling units.
  • The master of the vessel has the authority to conclude contracts for salvage operations on behalf of owner of the vessel. The master or owner of the vessel has the authority to conclude such contracts on behalf of the owner of the property on board (Section 7).
  • Salvage operations which have had a useful result give right to a reward (Section 12). The criteria for fixing reward for the salvor are provided in Section 13.
  • Payment of rewards shall be made by all of the vessel and other property interests in proportion to their respective salved values (Section 14). But the rewards, exclusive of interest and legal cost, shall not exceed the salved value of the vessel and other property (Section 15).
  • In the circumstances of Section 16 where the salvor has failed to earn a reward under Section 13 or earned it less than his expenses, he is entitled to special compensation from owner of the vessel which may be increased up to a maximum of 30% of the expenses incurred by him. The court has the power to further increase such special compensation, if considered fair and just, but the total amount of special compensation payable to the salvor shall not exceed 100% of his expenses (Section 16).
  • Life salvage does not give right to the salvor to claim remuneration from persons whose lives are saved, but is entitled to fair share of the payment awarded to the salvor if the salvage is involved in both life and property salvage (Section 20).
  • A salvor is not entitled to payment if he has been guilty of misconduct (Section 23) or rendered services against express and reasonable prohibition of the owner or master of the vessel or the owner of any other property in danger which is not and has not been on board the vessel (Section 24).
  • A salvor is entitled to enforce maritime lien unless satisfactory security for his claim has been duly provided (Section 25).

The Act provides for a two-year time limit for claim for payment under the Act. The two-year time limit commences from the day on which the salvage operation has accomplished (Section 31). Claim arising from salvage operation under the Act is under the jurisdiction of the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court.

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