Sources of Law

Thailand is a civil law country meaning that its basic laws are to be found in written codes, similar to those found in continental Europe. This is unlike the common law system that prevails in the USA, the United Kingdom and most of the Commonwealth.

There are four basic codes in Thai law

  • the Civil and Commercial Code
  • the Civil Procedure Code
  • the Criminal Code
  • the Criminal Procedure Code

There are also specific codes that deal with specific areas of law, for example:

  • the Land Code
  • the Revenue Code

In addition there are also Acts of Parliament, decrees, ministerial regulations and notifications. Decisions and rulings of the Judiciary and the Civili Service are not binding authority but have considerable force as precedents.

Court System

There is a three tier system:

  • the Supreme Court (Dika)
  • the Court of Appeal
  • the Courts of First Instance

In respect of the Courts of First Instance, there are three categories:

  • the Central Civil Court, the Central Criminal Court, the Bangkok South Civil Court, the Bangkok South Criminal Court and the Minburi Provincial Court, all located in Bangkok
  • the Provincial Courts
  • the District Courts

There are also specialized Courts:

  • the Family and Juvenile Courts
  • the Labour Court
  • the Taxation Court
  • the Intellectual Property and International Trade Court ("IPITC")
  • the Bankruptcy Court

There are also:

  • the Administrative Courts
  • the Constitutional Court
  • the Military Courts

Aspects of the Thai Legal System

There are certain aspects of the Thai legal system that should be noted. Both civil and criminal trials are conducted by a judge or judges, sitting without a jury all court proceedings are conducted in Thai (except in the IPITC). Oral evidence and documents in a foreign language must be translated into Thai, before they may be used in court. Affidavits are not generally used. There is no pre-trial disclosure of documents. Disclosure of relevant documents is instead effected by the issue of a subpoena against the possessor of such documents, ordering him to produce them at the trial. Both civil and criminal trials do not take place on consecutive days. Evidence is admitted half a day or one day at a time.

Foreign Civil Court Judgments

Foreign civil court judgments (Judgment) are not generally recognized by Thai courts. The party seeking to enforce the Judgment has to issue fresh proceedings in Thailand. The Judgment is admissible in evidence however at the end of the day, the Thai court will decide based on the merits of the case.


Arbitration means settlement of civil disputes amicably by appointing an impartial arbitrator or a person to judge the dispute and pass an award after hearing both the parties in dispute.

The three main domestic arbitration institutes in Thailand are:

  • the Thai Arbitration Institute, Office of the Judiciary;
  • the Office of the Arbitration Tribunal, Board of Trade; and
  • the Arbitration division, Insurance Commission.

There must be a binding arbitration agreement between the parties to enable arbitration to be invoked. An arbitration agreement can take the form of an arbitration clause in a contract or a separate arbitration agreement.

Foreign Arbitrations Awards

Thailand is a signatory to the New York Convention for the Recognition of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958). Subject to the Convention, foreign arbitration awards may be enforced directly in the courts of Thailand.

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