Dispute Resolution in Thailand

Chandler MHM’s Bangkok team regularly handles disputes in a variety of sectors and at all levels of court. It is particularly strong in contentious aircraft repossessions and fraud matters and has extensive experience in employment cases.

Thai culture has a strong bias towards resolving disputes through peaceful and non-adversarial means wherever possible. As such, courts often order that parties attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement before hearing a dispute.

Litigation

Litigation is the main way that disputes are resolved in Thailand. There is no jury system, and cases are decided on the merits of the evidence submitted by parties. Case law is not binding, but the principle of stare decisis is generally adhered to.

In criminal cases, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, and in civil disputes the standard is a preponderance of evidence. There are exceptions, however.

Class action lawsuits are permitted in Thai courts, and there are a number of different ways that they may be brought:

Outside the courtroom, mediation is widely available, and can be used by either party. The courts are generally supportive of mediation.

Arbitration

Arbitration is a common dispute resolution method in Thailand. It has been promoted to support the country’s justice system and economic development. It is one of the most important mechanisms in international commercial transactions.

The arbitration process is governed by the Arbitration Act (2002) which incorporates most of the UNCITRAL Model Law together with some additional Thai specific provisions. An arbitration agreement can be included in a contract, or drafted as a separate document.

During the hearing, both parties submit documents in support of their claims or defence. The tribunal can order the submission of further evidence and the interviewing of witnesses. It can also ask experts to examine the evidence. The hearing is conducted in private.

An arbitral award in a member state of the New York Convention is enforceable in Thailand (Section 41 of the AA). However, it can be reviewed by a court based on certain grounds. In most cases, the reviewing court is the Supreme Administrative Court.

Conciliation

In Thailand, a conciliation process is an effective alternative to litigation. This form of dispute resolution is typically faster and less expensive. Additionally, arbitration fees in the country are often lower than those of a court in many jurisdictions.

Conciliation is widely practised in Thailand’s courts of justice with encouraging figures of success. It is possible for the judge to order court annexed conciliation at any stage of a case or, at the request of the parties, can convene closed door sessions with a reconciler outside the courts.

A conciliation solicitor acts as an unbiased third party that facilitates a discussion among the disputing parties to bring about compromise or a settlement agreement. This is a confidential process and proceedings are conducted in a conference room, not in a courtroom, and the press and public cannot be present. It is also possible for the disputing parties to choose a one or three arbitrators and the arbitration institute will then designate the tribunal.

Mediation

Having emerged as an effective alternative dispute resolution mechanism, mediation represents a true option to address the judicial backlog in Thailand. As such, mediation is a highly recommended method by Juslaws & Consult for companies of all sizes and nationalities doing business in the country.

While mediation can be carried out out-of-court, it is also possible for parties to agree on a pre-litigation dispute mediation that can be conducted while the case is still pending in court. Upon the conclusion of a successful mediation, an enforceable compromise agreement can be entered into.

In the banking and finance and IT sectors, disputes can arise due to any type of financing agreements or derivative transactions, whereas employment-related disputes may involve claims for compensation, damages or other forms of relief. A good number of such disputes end up being settled via arbitration or conciliation in Thailand. However, this often requires the involvement of an experienced Thai mediation attorney.

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