In order to know which concrete court has jurisdiction over a particular case, one has to consider each of the following three aspects:
1. The nature of the legal matter, e.g. civil case, criminal case or administrative case. The civil and criminal courts are also called courts of justice as opposed to administrative courts. Besides there are Family and Juvenile Courts, Labor Courts and other specialized courts, and most importantly the Intellectual Property and International Trade Court.
2. Some court decisions can be reviewed and overruled by courts of a higher instance. In Thailand the courts of justice generally have three tiers: courts of first instance, Appeal Court (in Thai “Uthon”) and Supreme Court (in Thai “Dika”).
3. The locality of the case: there are courts of first instance all over Thailand.
One remark about the term “civil law” as this term can cause confusion for readers from Common Law countries: this term can refer to the law based on codified laws (as in continental Europe and Thailand) as opposed to the Common Law system of English speaking countries. But here the term civil law refers to litigation between private parties (as opposed to criminal law and administrative law).
It is very important to understand that the different types of court have different procedural codes, which will only apply in the specific type of court unless referred to by the procedural code of another court type. For example, the Civil Procedure Code of Thailand sets forth the rules of procedure in civil court cases (including the place of jurisdiction, the roles of plaintiff and defendant, the taking of evidence), whereas in criminal courts the often very different rules of the Criminal Procedural Code will apply.
Additionally there are special rules for special types of cases like consumer cases, where a consumer sues an entrepreneur, which contains favorable provisions for the consumer in order to compensate the consumer’s generally weaker position.
Moreover, it is important to understand that the laws of Thailand might substantially differ from the rules in certain other countries. If you are a foreigner in Thailand you should never automatically assume that the same rules will apply as at home.
We at Juslaws & Consult have a specialized Litigation Department comprising Thai lawyers who specialize in litigation not only in civil, criminal and administrative courts, but also in some of the specialized courts mentioned above as well as in consumer matters.
Generally we try to avoid litigation for our clients, but are well prepared to go to court as a measure of last resort. And if you find yourself as defendant of a civil or criminal lawsuit you will not be able to avoid litigation at all, and will need the advice and assistance of an experienced litigator.
We are also able to provide specialized representation in the Intellectual Property and International Trade Court.