In Thailand, Civil and Criminal Cases are handled by the judicial system. Global Affairs Canada cannot protect Canadians from the judicial process or prevent them from having to face it if they break the law.
Under Thai law, a plaintiff must bring a civil case to the court in the district where the cause of action arises or where the defendant resides. In Bangkok, there are the City Civil Courts, the South Civil Courts and the Thon Buri and Min Buri Civil Courts.
Court of First Instance
The Court of First Instance exercises unlimited original jurisdiction over general civil and criminal cases that are within its own districts. This court can also transfer cases within its territory to the Provincial Court if it is deemed that a case is more appropriate for that level of court.
Generally, a plaintiff should file a case in the court where the cause of action has occurred or where the defendant is domiciled. However, this rule may not apply in the case of an immovable property or consumer matters.
The judiciary in Thailand is independent and not bound to follow decisions of lower courts or set precedents. In practice, however, Supreme Court rulings have significant influence on the lower courts. In addition, Thailand has specialized courts, namely the Labor Court, Tax Court, Intellectual Property and International Trade Court and Bankruptcy Court. Cases filed in these specialized courts are heard by professional judges only.
Court of Appeal
The judicial system in Thailand can be complex and it is not uncommon for businesses to unintentionally fall afoul of the country’s laws. While Global Affairs Canada cannot protect you from the consequences of breaking the law, understanding how Thai criminal proceedings work can help ensure your rights are protected.
Located in Bangkok, the Court of Appeal handles cases decided by the First Instance courts located in Bangkok and also appeals from regional First Instance courts. Additionally, the Court of Appeal will handle specialized cases such as those involving bankruptcy, labor, and tax matters.
It can also hear appeals of narcotics and human trafficking cases as per the judicial regulations issued under the Law for the Organization of Courts B.E. 2558 (2015). In order to expedite the judicial process, the government enacted Act B. E. 2558 to enable judges with appropriate expertise in specialized cases to deal with them promptly. The court’s divisions include: the Intellectual Property and International Trade Court or IP & IT, the Tax Court, the Labour Court, and the Bankruptcy Court.
Juvenile and Family Courts
In Thailand, there is a central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok and 8 provincial courts that deal with juvenile cases. However, children charged with criminal offences do not receive special lenient treatment. They must undergo normal court proceedings unless they live in, or committed the crime in, an area where there is a Juvenile and Family Court.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child recommends that the criminal justice system take into account the specific needs and circumstances of children, including their desire for reintegration and constructive role in society, when deciding punishment. However, in practice it seems that this is not being done.
Inquiry officers need to spend a lot of time with children and youth in order to gather information about them. As a result, they are unable to deliver the children or youth to the court within 24 hours of their arrest. It is recommended that the inquiry officer should be required to involve a person whom children trust in the investigation, not only police officers.
Court of Last Resort
The Supreme Court is the last stage of Thailand’s judicial system, and judgments/resolutions handed down by the lower courts can be appealed to this court. Judges in the Supreme Court are not elected, but appointed by the king. They must take an exam to be qualified and are assisted by research judges.
Civil and criminal cases in Thailand are argued in a hierarchical system, with cases filed first with the Court of First Instance. A judgment issued by this court can be appealed to the Court of Appeals and, in turn, to the Supreme Court.
Various United Nations human rights monitoring mechanisms have expressed concerns over the use of lese majeste prosecutions and called for the amendment or repeal of Article 112. Defendants in criminal courts have a wide range of legal rights, including access to a lawyer of their choice, prompt and detailed information on charges against them, and the right not to be compelled to testify.