When many people hear the term “Juristic Person”, they tend to think that it relates to a court of law rather than a condominium or village. You may frequently have heard the term in Thailand, especially if you are looking to purchase or even rent a property. It is, therefore, natural that you want to know who or, more accurately, what they are and what roles they perform? This article will try to address both of these points to give the peace of mind in knowing what is being referred to.
What is the definition of a Juristic Person?
A Juristic Person can be an individual or a group of people, for example, a management company, which is recognised in law and entitled to specific legal rights and duties that have previously been agreed upon. They have the same legal standing as human beings in the eyes of the law. In Thailand, many condominiums will delegate the role of Juristic Person to a professional property management company in Thailand. They will work in conjunction with a Management Committee, which will comprise of unit owners. The Juristic Person could also be an owner or independent person.
Anyone involved in making decisions in how a property is run or managed is, in essence, the “Condominium Juristic Person”, often shortened CJP.
Is the CJP always responsible for the management of the condo?
In most cases, the CJP might assume responsibility for the condominium in Thailand. They may choose to appoint an individual to manage the property on a day-to-day basis. The individual would then take on the role of Juristic Manager. Of course, any appointed Juristic Manager must be suitably qualified, and as they are acting on behalf of all owners, they must follow specific stipulations.
What duties does the CJP perform?
The primary role of CJP is the management of the condo, which can take on a multitude of different tasks. They will be required to ensure that the common fees are paid on time by all owners, that the property is well maintained, ensure that employees are paid and control the funding of work conducted at the property, such as maintenance of lifts, painting of the building or repair work to the swimming pool.
How is this funded?
As we touched on above, the CJP is responsible for collecting the common area fees (sometimes referred to as the maintenance fee), which is a fee charged to all owners. The frequency will be determined by the CJP but is usually annually, quarterly or monthly and will be based on a price per square metre. The amount will be set at the AGM when all owners will get the opportunity to cast a vote which may be done by proxy or in person. The monies collected would go into a “sinking fund” managed by the CJP and used accordingly.
Don’t condos have a committee to decide all of this?
Not all condos have a committee, as being a member of it can be a time-consuming role that is usually unpaid, making it an unattractive proposition for many owners. As such, the owners are likely to delegate the role to a management company, but in Thai law, owners have the right to self-governance, which is when owners vote on whom should form part of the committee if indeed, they have one all. The committee must have between three and nine members. The committee are the people who will decide who is appointed CJP.
The CJP is responsible for managing the ratio of ownership
In Thai law, foreigners are only permitted to own a maximum of 49% of the liveable square meterage in the condominium. It is a limit set by the Condominium Act and is NOT the number of units, which is a common misconception. It is the role of the CJP to ensure that the ratio is not breached whenever there are sales and purchases of condos. It is possible to change the ownership from Thai to Foreigner and vice versa if it does not breach the said ratio.
If a breach of ratio does occur, the last sale would likely become invalid, potentially causing several problems and would be viewed as a serious dereliction of duty. Where there is a dereliction of duty, it is likely to be followed by legal consequences not only for the CJP but for the foreigner making the purchase.
What are the qualities or qualifications required to be a CJP or Juristic Manager?
The Condominium Act does not lay down any academic qualifications required to be a CJP or Juristic Manager, merely that they should be a “fit a proper person”. The CJP must be at least 25 years of age, have never been imprisoned in any country, been bankrupt, dismissed from a government position or dismissed from a previous role as manager for dereliction of duties. They must also be free from debt and have paid all taxes they are liable for on any property.
In laymen’s terms, the person must be seen as a reliable person with an honest nature who would not pose a risk of abusing their position, particularly in terms of the monies they have access to. The downside to this is that it can be subjective and therefore not infallible.
What are the duties of the CJP areas laid out by the Condominium Act?
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the owners of units within the condominium or the committee that determine the duties of the CJP; it is the Condominium Act. The Act views that their primary objective is to ensure that the common area is maintained and managed to the standard which the owners would reasonably expect. It is the responsibility of the CJP to ensure that this happens within the confines of Thai law.
The Act also states that it is the CJP’s responsibility to maintain peace and good order, manage finances, and retrieve late payments, including taxes. The CJP has the power the sue owners who fail to pay their debts within the specified timescale.