Similar to other countries, Thailand also has civil, administrative, military and special courts to try different types of litigation issues. Civil cases are bound to adhere to the Civil Procedure Code which was enacted into law in the year 2015.
The codification system of laws is also practiced outside of Thailand and similar terms may be in use. Nonetheless, finding and consulting with a reputable attorney should be a standard prior to any court action for foreign nationals to make sure that his complaints are meticulously given due attention based on the applicable laws of the Kingdom and that of his country of origin.
Civil Court Procedure
- A civil action starts when an aggrieved party files for a complaint with the court competent to the dispute;
- The complainant has to file for a petition with the court to issue a writ and deliver a copy of the complaint;
- The defendant has then to submit his response of the complaint within 15 days after the receipt of the copy;
- Upon receiving the response of the defendant, the complainant has then submitted his counterclaim before the court also within 15 days after the receipt thereof;
- If in case the defendant refuses to or fails to answer the counterclaim of the complainant then the latter can file a petition in order for the court to try and render a default judgment.
A pretrial, as deemed by the court, may or may not be conducted depending on its appreciation of the case. The number of court hearings and the length of time on which the case will be tried is also not prescribed.
Hierarchy of Civil Courts
- Court of First Instance – is the lowest court level in the hierarchy of civil courts in Thailand. It appreciates the facts and the applicable laws before it renders its judgment over the dispute.
- Appellate Court – in case of non-acceptance of the Court of First Instance’s decision, a party may choose to appeal his case before the Appellate Court.
- Supreme Court – hears the case, most often based on the law, if and when a party is not satisfied with the verdict rendered by the Court of Appeals.
See also the Courts of Justice by Siam Legal.
Foreign Nationals and the Thai Court System
The Thai court system does not use English as the primary language on its hearings, decisions, and other legal documentation. A foreign individual must seek the services of a reputable Thai lawyer with good skills in the English language to ensure his full appreciation of the case.
The foreigner must also recognize the fact that only Thai lawyers are allowed to represent them in the court of law. Foreign attorneys in Thailand function only as advisers but not as representatives nor can they be notary publics as these are only limited to Thais only.
Natural and juridical persons can file a complaint before the court. Both Thais and foreigners can file suits against Thai or non-Thai natural and juridical persons though it is also worthy to note that foreign nationals not domiciled in Thailand may choose to be represented by his attorney in court and can elect to attend hearings that are required of him by the court.