by Mr. Sebastien H. Brousseau, LL.B., B.Sc.
It is very important to have an Ethical Code for Thai lawyers just like for any professional in order to protect the public. In most countries, registered lawyers must follow their “ethical code” and it can apply also outside of their country. An ethical code are some regulations, rules that lawyers must follow and they are in place normally to protect the clients, to protect justice. It a lawyer fail to follow one of these rules, he or she can lose the license to practice law or have other penalties. There are normally committee and/or places where you can complain about the behaviour of a lawyer. Strangely I found almost nothing about this subject in English before translating and founding the texts below, which are pretty shallow.
Thai lawyers are no exception but the rules here are simple, short and not very detailed. We did a NON-OFFICIAL translation of these “Ethical Code for Thai lawyers”. The translation was very difficult and we hope you will understand most of this text. Our goal is only to inform and please read the disclaimer below this page. These were still valid in 2011 and I am pretty sure nothing has changed in 2023.
ETHICAL CODE FOR THAI LAWYERS
- Ethic rules of Thai Lawyers in Thai. Regulation of 2529
- Ethic rules of Thai Lawyers in English. Regulation of 1986 (same document as previous, with unofficial translation)
Registered foreign attorneys must follow the rules of their own legal association, and normally even if they work abroad, they are subjects to the rules of their own country. But many foreign “lawyers” in Thailand are not lawyers and do not have a license to practice law. Even if a foreign lawyer is registered in his own country,, he can normally not plead in Court in Thailand. Foreigners are restricted by law to be “attorneys”. That doesn’t mean they are not qualify and can’t work for a law firm. Any international law firm in Thailand do employ foreign attorneys, from Tilleke Gibbins, to Baker Mackenzie or ThaiLawOnline.. Yes, I know, we are way smaller than these 2 others! But we try to maintain high quality legal services.
e Thailand Lawyer’s Council (TLC) and the Thai Bar Association (TBA) are two professional organizations for lawyers in Thailand. The TLC is an independent body that regulates the legal profession, while the TBA is a professional organization that represents the interests of lawyers.
- The TLC was established in 1979 by the Thai Parliament. It is responsible for regulating the legal profession, including reviewing applications for admission to the bar, maintaining the discipline of lawyers, and managing the lawyers’ compensation fund. The TLC is composed of a president, two vice presidents, and nine members, all of whom are lawyers appointed by the Parliament.
- The TBA was established in 1927 by a group of Thai lawyers. It is a professional organization that represents the interests of lawyers, including defending the rights of lawyers, providing professional training and development services, and promoting legal excellence. The TBA is composed of a president, two vice presidents, and 50 members, all of whom are lawyers elected by the TBA members.
The TLC and the TBA collaborate to promote the legal profession in Thailand. However, they also have distinct roles. The TLC is responsible for regulating the legal profession, while the TBA is responsible for representing the interests of lawyers.
Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between the TLC and the TBA:
|Feature||Thailand Lawyer’s Council||Thai Bar Association|
|Governing body||Independent body appointed by the Parliament||Professional organization elected by lawyers|
|Responsibilities||Regulating the legal profession||Representing the interests of lawyers|
|Membership||Lawyers who have been admitted to the bar||Lawyers who have been admitted to the bar|
Ethical rules from abroad for foreign lawyers apply even if they work in Thailand.
If a foreign lawyer acts against his ethical rules in Thailand, you can make a complaint to his bar association. The ethical code of lawyers normally applies wherever he is, if he acts as an attorney or violates a rules from his or her behavour.
If someone writes “legal advisor”, “legal consultant”, or “director of X”, they are normally not “attorney”, “lawyer”, “barrister” under his name. Ask for their qualifications, experience, references. Remember that only Thai national can be attorneys in Thailand since around 1970. Attorneys have no problem to disclose their legal status, education and can easily provide you their license number. You can verify their status with their Bar Association if you wish, in Thailand or abroad.
Myself, I was admitted to the Bar of Quebec but resigned few years ago. Why? 2,000$ of membership per year, nothing given to me in return and they were asking me to have 30 hours per 2 years of continuous training about Quebec laws when I was living and working in Asia for more than 10 years. Just a better decision but I constantly learn about Thai law, keep improving my knowledge and skills, as a duty like any lawyer should do.
- Thai lawyer’s obligation to confidentiality (Tilleke Gibbins)