The Legal System of Thailand
Thailand is a civil law country. While most laws are codified, the general principles of equity are taken into account in some instances. Stare decisis or compliance with former decisions of the Supreme Court is not mandatory, but has a persuasive effect in the adjudication of controversies.
There is no jury system in Thailand. Cases are decided on the merits of the evidence submitted by the parties. Alternative dispute resolution is encouraged and settlements reached between the parties are respected by the court. Discovery procedures are still an unfamiliar concept in the system. Actual damages are awarded, but punitive or exemplary damages are rarely awarded.
Thai natural and juridical persons, as well as those domiciled in Thailand can bring suits against any defendant. Non-nationals and non-domiciled persons and entities can sue defendants domiciled in Thailand. Foreign persons or entities suing in Thailand need not be physically present in the country during the entire course of the suit. A lawyer in Thailand may file suit on the foreigner's behalf, and the foreign litigant may reserve personal appearance only when required by the court to give testimony against the contending party. Jurisdiction is determined by law alone. Venue may be waived, or may be subject to the agreement of parties.
The petitioning party is responsible for requesting the court to issue the summons against the respondent. A separate petition must be filed to request the court to serve the complaint and summons to the defendant. A reasonable amount of time is allowed for the service. If the defendant is not domiciled in Thailand, service of summons must be done through diplomatic channels. Foreign judgements are not enforceable in Thailand. A separate suit needs to be filed, and the foreign judgement is presented as evidence in the new case. In such cases, the court will necessarily examine whether the foreign court which decided the case had jurisdiction and whether the judgement was final.
Like in most countries, the burden of proof in criminal cases like murder or rape is proof beyond reasonable doubt. On the other hand, civil controversies like breach of contract or rescission require mere preponderance of evidence.
Litigation in Thailand
Foreign transactions in Thailand had rapidly risen in the recent years. Relations, both business and personal, have found its way into the system of Thailand. This, too, has inevitably resulted in the increase of litigations in the country.
Thais are known to be non-litiguous people. However, the influx of foreign residents and guests has swung the Thai judicial system to activity.
Whenever faced with a legal controversy, foreigners are advised to secure the services of a Thai lawyer. This is because all legal processes, including arbitration proceedings, are done in the native language. Pleadings for submission to judicial bodies are submitted in Thai as well. And similar to the rules in most countries, only lawyers who are members of the local bar are allowed to appear in court and other legal venues.
Siam Legal has a team of foreign legal professionals from the Americas, Europe and Asia who are committed to extend impeccable service to its foreign clientele. Hand in hand with their Thai counterparts, Siam Legal delivers litigation service in the following fields of practice:
- Criminal Law - Fraud, Drugs, Imprudence, Negligence, Money Laundering
- Civil Law - Breach of Contract, Debt Collection
- Family Law - Divorce, Child Custody, Child Visitation, Child Repudiation
- Personal Injury - Torts, Medical Malpractice
- Labor Disputes
- Intellectual Property Disputes
- Trade Disputes