The Thai legal system is a unique blend of traditional Thai customs and Western legal principles. Based in civil law, but with influences from common law, it is a complex system that has evolved to meet the needs of its society. Here is what you need to know before you go to Court in Thailand.
Example of a Thai Court.
Thai law is codified, meaning that laws are written and accessible to the public. The primary source of law is the Constitution, followed by acts and statutes. The hierarchy of laws ensures that any legal statutes align with the Constitution’s principles. The Thai judiciary is independent and comprises three court levels: the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court, also known as the Dika Court. Specialized courts, such as Family Courts and Administrative Courts, address specific types of disputes.
Mediation and conciliation are prioritized
One should be aware that the Thai legal process emphasizes mediation and reconciliation, particularly in civil disputes. Litigation can be a lengthy process, so alternative dispute resolution methods are often encouraged.
Documents must be signed so a Thai lawyer can represent you
Representation by a Thai lawyer in court mandates the signing of a “lawyer’s appointment” document, alongside providing copies of identification. This formalizes the attorney-client relationship and authorizes the lawyer to act on the client’s behalf. Here’s an English version for you to understand.
Court fees can apply In civil cases, pursuing damages incurs court fees, typically amounting to 2% of the claimed damages. Exceptions apply for minor claims or those exceeding 10 million baht, where the percentage may vary.
Courtroom decorum is also strictly upheld. Proper attire is expected—no flip-flops or casual wear—as the court represents the King and thus commands respect. Behavior inside the courtroom should be respectful at all times, and disruptions or informalities are not tolerated. It is also forbidden in court to cross your legs when you are sitting on the benches.
Furthermore, the sanctity of the courtroom extends to privacy; photography within court premises is strictly prohibited. It is crucial to maintain the dignity of the court and adhere to these regulations to avoid contempt.
Foreigners need interpreters
Foreigners face additional layers of complexity in the Thai legal system. Visa regulations, property ownership laws, and business regulations have nuances that require careful navigation, often necessitating local legal expertise. Foreigners also need interpreters in Court because all the procedures are done in Thai language.
Criminal law in Thailand is strict with severe penalties for drug offenses, defamation, and lèse-majesté laws. Tourists and expatriates must adhere to these laws to avoid legal issues. The police have up to 84 days to investigate a suspect and before they give the files to the prosecutor. Bail can be granted depending on the crime and the proof. Bail is guaranteed by an amount in cash or by a property located in Thailand.
Understanding the nuances of Thai law is crucial for anyone looking to live, work, or do business in Thailand. It is often advisable to seek the assistance of a legal professional who is proficient in navigating the intricacies of the Thai legal system.