As a sovereign country with a civil law legal system, Thailand does not have a jury system where decisions are arrived at by the jury after appreciating the pieces of evidence presented by involved parties before the court. It is the judge or judges who shall render the decision in favor of or against the petitioner.
Foreign Lawyers and the Thai Court System
A lawyer of foreign nationality cannot practice law in Thailand neither can he represent a client at the court nor do notarial services as these are reserved only to Thai lawyers registered to practice in the Kingdom.
What foreign lawyers can do are provide legal advice based on their knowledge of the Thai laws and its legal system and so having a foreign attorney in Thailand with extensive experience on Thai and laws of other countries may prove crucial in a legal debacle.
Medium of Communication in Thai Courts
Court proceedings and documents utilize the Thai language which can cause concern for a foreign plaintiff or defendant. However, this issue can be addressed effectively if the foreign national can find a Thai lawyer with a good command in English.
Types of Thai Courts
Thailand has several types of courts: civil, special courts, administrative and military courts.
The following are the three court levels in the Thai civil court system:
Court of First Instance – this is the lowest of the three levels. Here, cases are appreciated based on facts and laws.
Court of Appeals – this middle level hears appeal cases from parties unsatisfied with the decision arrived at the Court of First Instance.
Supreme Court – here, cases are usually tried based on law and not on facts. If in case a party is not satisfied with the decision arrived at by the Appellate Court or any of the Specialized Courts of the Court of First Instance.
Thai Court Process
After filing a case before the court, the plaintiff has to file for a petition for the defendant to be furnished with a copy of the complaint. The defendant has then to issue a response to the complaint within the prescribed period.
After receiving the response of the defendant, the plaintiff has to issue his own counterclaim.
If the defendant fails to submit his reply within 15 days after the receipt of the plaintiff’s counterclaim, the latter can file a petition to render a default judgment.
The case may go through a pretrial depending on the wisdom of the court and the whole trial may go for months or even years on end as the number of court hearings and trial length cannot be ascertained.
Applicability of Decisions
If a party to the case is a foreigner and is unsure whether court decisions in Thailand are to be honored or adopted by his country, he can choose to consult this with the legal department of his embassy.
Nationalities and Representations
Natural or juridical persons, Thai or otherwise, may file a complaint with the court. If the complainant is not domiciled in Thailand, he or the legal entity may still seek relief through the Thai court system. His presence on all hearings is not required unless otherwise directed upon by the court.
If you need legal advice and assistance from a qualified lawyer or a lawyer to represent you in a court hearing, please contact us today.