Integrity Legal

6th Aug 2009

On this blog and in other places on our site we have discussed the US-Thai Amity Treaty and how it can be beneficial for those doing business in the Kingdom of Thailand. However, most of these writings have made the assumption that one would be setting up a Thai Limited Company as an entity certified by the Foreign business office as protected under the Treaty.

One aspect Thai corporate law that is of some interest to American operators in Thailand is the notion of establishing a sole proprietorship and obtaining Amity Treaty certification. In theory, this is possible, although in practice it can be somewhat difficult to arrange and has some drawbacks from a legal viewpoint.

One positive aspect of Treaty Certification on a sole proprietorship is the fact that income garnered by the sole proprietor can be taxed as if it were personal income. Therefore, issues of so-called “double taxation” do not come into play when dealing with some sole proprietorships. Also, with regard to a sole proprietorship the paperwork necessary to establish the entity is far less substantial. In the case of proper Thai limited companies, it may be necessary to promulgate meeting minutes of shareholders and directors. Sole proprietorships generally do not require meeting minutes because the sole proprietor is the only person with authority to make decisions on behalf of the company.

One of the major warnings that any legal professional will give to one seeking to establish a sole proprietorship is to think about the ramifications of a lack of limited liability. Sole proprietorships do not have limited liability and therefore, should an adversely affected party wish to sue the sole proprietorship, then the sole proprietor’s personal assets could be placed in jeopardy. Thai limited companies do not have unlimited liability which means that should one sue the company, then the company would only be liable up to the amount of their registered capital.

Finally, from a practical standpoint there are some professions for which a foreigner cannot obtain a work permit to perform. Therefore, it may be possible to set up a sole proprietorship to engage in the entertainment business, but not be able to get a Thai work permit in order to perform the activities inherent to the business. In some ways setting up a limited company sidesteps this problem because the Thai company is viewed as a separate legal entity in the eyes of the law and therefore, the activities that the company engages in may not be the same as the foreigner’s actual job within the organization. Therefore, the Ministry of Labour might authorize the work permit for one working for a Thai Limited Company with Amity Treaty Certification.

(Nothing contained herein should be acted upon as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between author and reader.)

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