Thailand is a civil law country and while it core principles are codified, the general ethics of equity are considered in some instances. The Thai court is neither bound to adhere to decisions made in earlier cases or to comply with former Supreme Court decisions. Former decisions may however affect the adjudication of controversies.
Cases in Thailand are purely judged on the strength of the evidence submitted by opposing parties and there is no jury system. Therefore, parties are encouraged to reach an amicable settlement outside of the judicial system. Inside the judicial system, actual damages are often awarded, but it is still uncommon for punitive or exemplary damages to be awarded. Unlike many Western systems, discovery procedures are rarely used.
Whilst both Thai nationals and those permanently domiciled in the country are entitled to file suit against any defendant. Non-national and non-domiciled persons and entities may sue a defendant who is domiciled in Thailand. It is common for a Thai lawyer to represent a non-national’s case in court in their absence and it is only necessary for the non-national to appear in court if they are called upon to give testimony against the defending party. The power to make decisions and judgements is governed by Thai law alone. In some cases, subject to the agreement of the concerned parties, venue may be waived.
Two petitions must be filed by the petitioning party, firstly requesting the court to issue the summons against the respondent and secondly a request to serve the complaint and summons to the defendant, allowing an adequate amount of time for the process. A summons may be served through diplomatic channels on the case of the defendant being domiciled in a country other than Thailand. Foreign judgements are not officially enforced in Thailand, but can be presented as evidence in a new case filed separately through a Thai court. In these instances, a decision will be made by the court as to its jurisdictional validity and if the judgement is deemed to be final.
Akin to most international judicial systems, the burden of proof in high profile criminal cases can provide proof beyond reasonable doubt, whereas with regard to civil issues, the court would solely require preponderance of evidence.
Litigation in Thailand
In general, Thai nationals are not commonly known for taking legal action in minor instances. However, with the growing influence of foreign residents and global business connections in the country, there has been a rise in litigious activity in the Thai judicial system.
It is important to remember that in the Thai legal system, all proceedings are conducted in the Thai language by lawyers who are required by law to be members of the local bar in order to practice. Therefore, any foreigners who are faced with legal action in Thailand are strongly advised to seek the services of a Thai lawyer.
Harwell International Law Office has a dedicated team of professionals hailing from the Americas, Europe and Asia in order to ensure that we are able to cater for a truly international clientele. Working side by side with our team of Thai counterparts, Harwell International Law Office is able to provide litigation service in the following legal areas:
- 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