LITIGATION IN THAILAND
By: Magna Carta Law Office
Litigation is the process of taking a case to a court of law or carrying on a lawsuit for settling controversies or disputes so that a judgment can be made.
The general courts are ordinary courts which have authorities to try and adjudicate criminal and civil cases. Those courts are:
- Civil Courts
- Criminal Courts
- Provincial Courts
- Municipal Courts (Kwaeng Courts)
Under Thai Law, the plaintiff must bring a civil case to the court where the cause of action arises or where the defendant is domiciled. Where an immovable property is involved, the plaintiff has to bring a lawsuit to the court where such property is situated, or where the defendant is domiciled.
As regards criminal cases, the court in a district where an offence has been committed, alleged or believed to have been committed, or where an accused resides or is arrested, or where an inquiry official conducts an inquiry, has jurisdiction over the cases.
The primary function of Municipal Courts is to dispose of small cases quickly with minimum formality and expense. The jurisdiction of these courts covers both criminal and civil cases.
Criminal cases fallen in the jurisdiction must deal with the criminal offence punishable with a maximum of three years imprisonment, or fine not exceeding 60,000 baht or both. For civil cases, the amount of claims must not exceed 300,000 baht. The proceeding in Municipal Courts is emphasized on the speedy trial; therefore, the trial is more simple and oral judgment or summarized judgment may be issued.
Alternative to Filing a Lawsuit
There are different alternatives to filing a lawsuit, depending on the legal situation. Mediation and arbitration are two of the several Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods for settling disputes without resorting to lawsuits.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to any means of settling disputes outside of the courtroom. It typically includes early neutral evaluation, negotiation, conciliation, mediation, and arbitration. The disputing parties select an impartial third party, known as an arbitrator. Disputing parties agree in advance to comply with the arbitrator’s decision then participate in an informal hearing at which both sides can present evidences and testimony. The arbitrator’s decision is usually final, and courts rarely reexamine it.
Mediating a case before filing a lawsuit enables the parties to present their case to a neutral third person who assists in finding mutually acceptable agreements before any money is spent on litigation. It gives the parties the opportunity to discuss and clear their issues and find areas of agreement. If the parties reach an amicable solution, they may enter into a binding and enforceable compromise agreement.
It is important that you have an appropriate legal counsel to comprehensively and competently evaluate your case at an early stage. Defendants usually have a specific period of time to respond.