Civil and Criminal Cases in Thailand

The legal system in Thailand consists of courts that handle different kinds of disputes and alleged crimes. It is important to understand the difference between civil and criminal cases in order to avoid costly mistakes.

The legal process in Thailand takes time to complete. To reduce the amount of time it takes to get a judgement, the law has been passed to set specific timelines for cases to be completed.

Courtroom proceedings

Court proceedings in Thailand are a vital component of the country’s legal system and address a broad range of disputes and alleged criminal offences. Understanding these processes can help you better protect your business interests and comply with Thai laws.

Civil actions can involve property and commercial disputes, employment cases, divorces, and torts. The courts have jurisdiction over these cases based on where the cause of action arises or where the defendant resides. All court proceedings are conducted in the native language of Thai and any documents produced in foreign languages must be translated.

Judicial procedures in Thailand are time consuming and can take up to three years to complete. In an effort to reduce these delays, the Supreme Court has implemented a Timeframe for Judicial Proceeding Act and Regulation.

Preliminary hearings

In Thailand, there are two ways to initiate criminal proceedings: submitting a complaint to police or bringing a private action directly to the courts. In either case, the court will hold a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not the accusation has merit.

This hearing is like a mini-trial, and the defense can cross-examine witnesses. If the judge concludes that there is probable cause to believe that the accused committed the crime, they will schedule a trial for the defendant.

The court will also consider the evidence submitted by both parties. Although the Thai judicial system does not have the same modes of discovery as Western jurisdictions, parties can petition the court for case-relevant documents. They can also subpoena witnesses if necessary. If a client wins the case, they can claim reimbursement of their attorney’s fees.


In Thailand, there is no jury system and it will be up to the judge presiding over your case to decide whether you are guilty or innocent. The police and prosecution will have considerable power to present a strong case against you.

Because of this, it is crucial that you prepare carefully for your trial before you are arrested. As a civil law jurisdiction, judges are heavily influenced by Supreme Court decisions as precedent references for adjudicating cases. The law also does not permit plea-bargaining or pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Instead, you will have to stand your ground and fight the charges against you. You should be aware that the judicial process in Thailand can take a very long time. It is not uncommon for court cases to last years before judgment is passed.

Court-supervised mediation

The Thai legal system is complex, and even though criminal proceedings are relatively predictable, it’s best to have a skilled local lawyer by your side. A seasoned attorney will be able to anticipate the moves of opposing counsel and work to their client’s advantage.

In civil cases, the judge can order court-supervised mediation if they deem it appropriate. The process is confidential and aims to settle disputes without a trial. It is also useful for minimizing the number of appeals.

The Kingdom of Thailand has a civil law system with an inquisitorial structure that lacks the traditional trial by jury and utilizes professional judges to rule on case-by-case basis. It’s not uncommon for the courts to refer cases to mediation, particularly with financial disputes.

Attorney’s fees

For those charged with criminal offences in Thailand, having a competent and experienced criminal lawyer is essential. In addition to language proficiency and knowledge of the local legal system, a good criminal attorney should be familiar with the cultural and logistical challenges faced by foreigners in Thailand.

Civil cases help individuals and entities seek redress for their rights, including upholding contractual obligations and property ownership. They are also crucial in deterring criminal behavior and ensuring that those accused of crimes receive due process.

If you are arrested as a suspect, it is important to know that you have the right to refuse to provide a statement until an experienced criminal lawyer from a reputable firm has been present. Any statement you make could be used as evidence against you in court.

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