For offences on the ground of bringing restricted items into Thailand under the 1926 Customs Act, Section 27 provides the penalty for each offence under a fine imposed in monetary terms at the rate of 4 times the price of the items inclusive of importing duties, or an imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or to both fines and imprisonment.
As for the 2017 Customs Act which came into force on November 13, 2017, Section 244 provides penalty for bringing in restricted items into Thailand without permission at a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding Baht 500,000/- or to both imprisonment and fines and the Court may have such items confiscated notwithstanding if anyone has been inflicted with the penalty under the judgment or not.
What will happen in case the offences are inter-related between the 1926 Customs Act which was in force up to November 12, 2017 and under the 2017 Act which came into force as from November 13, 2017 onwards? It can be seen that penalty for offences against the 2017 Customs Act merely carries an imposition of fines of not more than Baht 500,000 per offence which is lighter than the 1926 Customs Act with a fine of as high as four times the price of goods including duties. According to the general principles of application of the criminal law, where laws applicable at the time the offence was committed differ from the law applicable after the offence, the law which would be beneficial in any way to the offender would be applicable.
For offences in bringing restricted items into Thailand without permission under Section 244 of the 2017 Customs Act, this is an offence for which prosecution may be waived if the overall price including duties under any Bill of Lading does not exceed Baht 400,000. It will rest under the Customs Director-General’s power to impose a fine in lieu of entering action in court under Section 256. As for any bill of lading with the price including duties exceeding Baht 400,000, it will rest under the jurisdiction of the Case Settlement Committee under Section 257. Thus, steps towards imposition of fines in both cases are different in that if the authority lies with the Case Settlement Committee, a procedure and timeframe for deliberation will be involved which will be longer than if the case is dealt with by the Customs Department Director-General.
By Prangtip Anantavipat and Prof. Piphob Veraphong