Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that a consumer watchdog group can proceed with a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) over its approval of the True-DTAC merger.
In March 2023, the Foundation for Consumers sued the NBTC over an October 2022 resolution in which it said that the regulator had no authority to approve or disapprove the merger of True Corp and DTAC. In that resolution, the NBTC acknowledged the deal and issued remedy measures.
The Foundation for Consumers – which says the True-DTAC merger is harmful to consumers – filed a complaint with the Central Administrative Court on March 8, seeking a court order to scrap the NBTC resolution. The CAC rejected the complaint on the grounds that it had been filed after the statutory deadline for such complaints, which must be filed within 90 days of an NBTC resolution.
However, according to various media reports, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Monday that the foundation had good legal standing because it represents the rights of consumers directly impacted by the merger.
The court also ruled that the CAC could still hear the case despite the deadline expiry because telecoms is a basic necessity and the merger could potentially have a wide impacts on consumers (many of whom are DTAC customers) by harming free and fair competition. As such, there was enough public interest that the case could proceed.
According to The Nation, True Corp issued a statement on Tuesday saying the court ruling will not affect the merger plan, which is says complies with all related laws, and will benefit both consumers and the telecoms market in general.