“A Firm of High Moral Standards”: An Interview with Mr. Bundit Siripant
The law office “Seni Pramoj Advocates & Solicitors” is located on the first floor at 10 Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, Khwaeng Bavornniwet, in the district of Khet Phra Nakhon, which is in the centre of Bangkok. It is within walking distance from the famous Grand Palace, Tham- masat University and Sanam Luang. The law firm was founded by Seni Pramoj and Phraya Auttagareenipont shortly after the Second World War in 1946. Seni Pramoj was of great importance to the modern state of Thailand. Besides being a former diplomat who is credited with preventing the United States from attacking Thailand during World War II, Seni Pramoj served three short terms as Thailand’s Prime Minister. Later he was a professor at the Faculty of Law at Thammasat University and Chulalongkorn University as well as at the Thai Bar Association under the Royal Patronage. He is also known for writing textbooks on law, on English and Thai literature as well as a book on golfing.
The present law firm’s head, Mr. Bundit Siripant, kindly agreed to an interview about the history of the law firm and as well some insights about his relation to Seni Pramoj.
Mr. Bundit joined the law firm as a legal intern after completing his studies at the Faculty of Law at Thammasat University in 1965 and has been working there to the present day. These days how- ever, he has stopped working cases because of his age. Nonetheless, he is still around in the office and advises his younger colleagues. The only exception regarding his retirement is that he re- mains the personal lawyer of former Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.
During the early years of his career, he had various opportunities to conduct lawsuits closely with Seni Pramoj, the person he admired as a teacher as well as one of the most faithful lawyers in the country. After working in the law firm for ten years, he succeeded Seni Pramoj as the head of the firm in 1975 when Khun Seni accepted the position as Prime Minister for the third time in his political career. Although being forced to resign as Prime Minister after the Thammasat University massacre on October 6th 1976, Khun Seni did not take on any more case. Nevertheless, he remained active in the law firm as an advisor until his retirement.
Being asked about the working habit of Seni Pramoj, and whether there was a legacy passed on by him in terms of a corporate culture to the present day, Mr. Bundit pointed out that Khun Seni was a man of very high moral standards. For instance, whenever Khun Seni received fees, he always insisted that it had to be recorded into the account books in order to pay the exact amount of taxes in accordance with the law. This applied even to his birthday parties where some of his guests gave him gold, jewelry and money. He insisted on taking those presents into account in order to pay taxes on them as well. Regarding his legacy, there are two types of cases that the law firm has not been accepting since the time of Seni Pramoj: Seni Pramoj does not take Drug or Corruption Cases. Mr. Bundit emphasized that since its foundation, the firm adheres to a sound moral standard and has never deviated from that.
Mr. Bundit added that one of the most remarkable cases of his life was the last case which he handled together with Seni Pramoj. In this case in 1975 their client, a German company, sued a Thai company re- garding the construction of a warship. It was such a difficult case, that the president of the civil court at the time called junior judges to observe the case. Seni Pramoj could only attend four oral hearings before the court before he was appointed Prime Minister. Despite his absence, Mr. Bundit fought the case, winning all instances, including the last instance to the Supreme Court.
Other landmark cases of his career were a series of political cases in 2007 and 2010 including the po- litical case against Abhisit Vejjajiva, the abolishment of the Democrat Party case, and the defamation case against former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
After the interview Mr. Bundit showed us around and told us about some pictures of Seni Pramoj, which can be seen almost everywhere around the office.
The interview was conducted by CPG stagiaire Tawan Rattanaprapaporn and CPG legal clerk Deniz Kuruloglu