Litigation System in Thailand

Thailand Civil Cases

Most issue on civil cases in Thailand include divorces, breach of contract, and collection of sum of money if the debtor refuses to pay. When one party’s right is breached, civil actions can be filed. Civil actions are in the form of lawsuits brought before courts whereby a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong.

Disputes in Thailand are attempted to resolve by amicable settlement. Only in the event that it can no longer be resolved that judicial intervention is seek. The injured party or the “Plaintiff” will be represented by his lawyer and goes to the appropriate Court of First Instance to file the complaint in writing. In the written complaint, it must include the nature of his claim, the relief sought and the allegations upon which the claim is based. The party against whom the case is filed is called the “Respondent.” When filing a lawsuit, make sure there is a proper designation of the case, jurisdiction of the court, and determination of proper parties.

Court Proceedings

For the court proceedings, there would be a preliminary hearing for the identification of issues. At this point, the possibility of amicable settlement is still being seek. Court proceedings in Thailand are conducted in Thai language (except in special courts). Documents made in a foreign language must be translated into Thai. Only original documents are admissible in evidence, save in some instances. Gathering evidence to prove one’s claims is necessary in a civil case.

The Thai Judicial System

Cases in Thailand are decided on the merits of the evidence submitted by both parties. Before going through the court, dispute resolution through settlement of two parties is encouraged.

Thai nationals, 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. If the foreigner is not physically present in Thailand he may hire a lawyer to represent in foreigner’s behalf.

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.

Like in most countries, the burden of proof in criminal cases like murder or rape is proof beyond reasonable doubt. Civil controversies like breach of contract or rescission require mere preponderance of evidence.

Litigation process in Thailand includes arbitration proceedings done in Thai language. Pleadings for submission to judicial bodies are submitted in Thai as well. Only lawyers who are members of the local bar are allowed to appear in court and other legal venues. A final adjudication of the case is reached by the court.

Your lawyer must be able to take you through the entire process, not only until the judgment stage at the Court of First Instance, but through possible stages of appeal with the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court.

Thailand Litigation Issues:

Litigation issues includes trade disputes, torts, anti-money laundering, criminal cases, private investigation, personal injury, arbitration, drug offenses, breach of contract, medical malpractice, labor litigation, debt recovery.

Debt Collection or Debt Recovery

When an issue arises involving a loan of money in Thailand, first thing to be asked if if there’s any loan of money contract. Loan of money contract or loan of consumption is a contract whereby the lender transfers to the borrower the ownership of a certain quantity of property which is ‘consumed’ by the borrower. The borrower, in return, agrees to return property ‘of the same kind, quality and quantity.’ The contract only becomes complete upon delivery of the property.

A contract for loan of money is enforceable only if:

  • For a loan of money not exceeding 2,000 baht, a witness may testify in the court that a loan of money contract was established;
  • For a loan of money exceeding 2,000 baht there must be production to the court of some written evidence of the loan signed by the borrower.

Debt recovery is possible if there is an evidence signed by the lender must be provided to the court, or it must be shown the document evidencing the loan has been surrendered to the borrower or cancelled.

Personal Injury Claims

Once a personal injury happens, under Thai law, the Plaintiff could claim for compensation as a result of personal injury. Claims for compensation must generally be brought and filed at the Thai court within one year of the day the injury took place. Certain exceptions apply, most notably where claims also fall under the ambit of the criminal law, where the time limit is that prescribed by the applicable (criminal) law, assuming the period of prescription is longer. The law also provides longer time limits if it is not clear who is responsible for providing compensation.

Compensation in Personal Injury cases involves the award of expenses such as medical treatment and damages for loss of earnings, both present as well as future. If, at the time of judgement, the court feels it cannot precisely establish the actual consequences of the injury, it may reserve the right to revise its decision for a period of no more than two years.

Broadly speaking, Thai courts seek to put claimants in the position they would have been in had the injury not occurred. This usually involves the award of expenses (e.g. for medical treatment etc.) and damages for loss of earnings. Please note that Thai courts do not usually award damages for such ‘intangibles’ such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional shock etc.

If in case that the Plaintiff is outside Thailand and wishes to bring an action for injury, claims can be filed with the court on behalf of an applicant through power of attorney. The physical presence of Plaintiff is still required at a later date, in the Thai court to provide testimony.

Thailand Labor Disputes

Thailand Labor Disputes is to legislate rights of labor sector. Among the legislations are Labor Protection Act and the Civil and Commercial Code; Labor Relations Act; the Provident Fund Act; the Social Security Act; and the Workmen’s Compensation Act. Foreign Workers in Thailand are covered by the Alien Working Act of 2008.

Among the government sectors that administer the law and rights of workers on labor issues include The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, via the Department of Labor Protection and Welfare.

Labor dispute happens when there is a violation of employees rights such as working hours, compensation, work restrictions, welfare funding, allowable vacation and sick leaves, holidays, workmen securities and privileges. A worker can file a labor case against his employer if there is an illegal dismissal or unlawful termination of employees, unlawful provision of severance compensation for workers. Complaints on illegal dismissal or unlawful termination must be brought by the offended employee first to the Labor Relations Committee.

Factors to be considered in determining the amount of damages include the following: age of the employee, the length of service, the hardship of the employee at the time of dismissal, the cause of the dismissal and the compensation the employee is entitled to receive.

Medical Malpractice

For medical malpractice, claims for compensation must generally be brought within one year of the day the injury took place in the designated Thai court. Certain exceptions apply, most notably where claims also fall under the ambit of the criminal law, where the time limit is that prescribed by the applicable (criminal) law, assuming the period of prescription is longer. Compensation includes award for expenses and damages for loss of earnings, both present as well as future.

It must be established that a medical practitioner acted negligently or unlawfully, by way of the failure to meet established and accepted standards of medical practice in the jurisdiction, and that injury or death resulted from such an act. For this reason, the most important evidence, at least initially, will be that provided in the form of a medical opinion from a practitioner providing a suitable attestation to this effect.

See also The Legal System of Thailand and Legal Services in Phuket.