Legal Environment

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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
The use of contract is an insurance of a safe business practice.
Law Applicable to the Contract
The laws applicable to the contract are managed within the Civil and commercial code of Thailand.
Advisable Incoterms
Quotes are usually on CIF basis in Thai baht, Australian dollars, US dollars, Pound Sterling or any other currency. Thai baht and US dollars are preferred. Initial transactions should be by confirmed irrevocable letter of credit only. The validity period is usually nine months.
Language of Domestic Contract
Thai and English.
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
Thailand is a signatory of the Vienna convention adressing in particular dispute resolutions.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The institution responsible for the registration and protection of industrial property is the Trade Department in the Ministry of Commerce. Information on the regulation body, the Department of Intellectual Property, can be found on its website.
Regional Organisations
Thailand has signed the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Intellectual Property Cooperation.
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
 Patent Act (No.3) B.E.2542 (1999)
20 years Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Trademark Act B.E. 2534 (2000)
10 years renewable
Patent Act B.E. 2522 (1979), as amended by Patent Act (No. 2) B.E. 2535 (1992) and Patent Act (No. 3) B.E. 2542 (1999)
10 years  
Copyright Act B.E.2537 (1994), as last amended in 2015 (B.E.2558)
50 years Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Industrial Models
Patent Act BE 2522 (1999)
10 years  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Foreign nationals can normally expect impartial trial from the country’s judicial system.
The Language of Justice
Thai is the judicial language used in Thailand, though English is widely used.
Recourse to an Interpreter
It is possible to have access to a translator.
Legal Similarities
The laws of Thailand are based on civil law, but have been influenced by common law. The Constitution is the supreme law of Thailand which prevails over other laws passed by parliament. The country is currently ruled by a military-led government that seized power through a coup d’état in May 2014. On 22 July 2014, an interim constitution was enacted. A final draft of the new Constitution was passed by referendum on 7 August 2016.

The Different Legal Codes

Civil and Commercial code Civil and Commercial Law
Criminal Code Criminal law
Civil Procedure Code Administrative law
Criminal Procedure Code Criminal Prosecution
Land Code Land ownership law
Revenue Code Tax legislation
Checking National Laws Online
Consult the Library of Congress
Other Useful Resources
Asialaw, Thailand law information
Country Guides
Siam-legal, Thailand largest legal network

The Jurisdictions

Courts of Justice The Courts of Justice have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases and are organized in three tiers: Courts of First Instance, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Justice. There are about 140 Courts of First Instance throughout the Kingdom: Civil Court, Criminal Court, Juvenile and Family Court, Central Labor Court and Central Tax Court, including Kwaeng Courts which have jurisdiction over minor civil cases and criminal cases with maximum punishment of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or fine not exceeding Baht 60,000 or both. In the provinces, they are the Provincial Courts, and in some large provinces the Provincial Juvenile and Family Courts and Kwaeng Courts are included. A detailed presentation of the Thai juridictions can be found on the following website.
Administrative Courts The administrative court system is composed of two tiers: The administrative courts of first instance and the administrative court of last resort, that is, the Supreme Administrative Court. The court system was first created in 1997, the court's main jurisdiction is to settle litigation between the state or an organ of state (government ministries, departments, and independent agencies) and private citizens.
Constitutional Court The Constitutional Court of Thailand was created solely as a high court to settle matters pertaining to the constitution.

Court Officials

There are four types of judge system: career judge, senior judge, associate judge , and Datoh Yutithum or Kadis. For more details on the description of their function click on this link.

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International Dispute Resolution

Lawsuits must always be filed in courts of first instance. Courts of first instance can be courts of general jurisdiction or courts of special jurisdiction depending on the nature of the claim and the parties involved. For example, international claims involving goods and services or intellectual property matters should be submitted to the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court (IP&IT Court). Domestic claims involving goods and services should, in contrast, be submitted to civil courts of general jurisdiction. Examples of courts of general jurisdiction are kwaeng courts, to which claims for damages of Baht 200,000 or less must be submitted, and provincial courts in Thailand's 76 provinces. Examples of courts of special jurisdiction are the Labor Court, the Tax Court, the Bankruptcy Court, the IP&IT Court, and the Juvenile and Family courts. The statutes that deal with arbitration of dispute are The Civil and Commercial Code, Section 850-852 and the Civil Procedure Code, Section 138, for conciliation and compromising agreements, the Arbitration Act B.E. 2530 (1987) for extra-judicial arbitration; and The Civil Procedure Code, Sections 210-222, for interlocutory arbitration.
Arbitration Law
The Arbitration Act of 1987 expressly states that the action for enforcement of arbitral award (by way of a confirmed judgment) must be initiated in a Thai court within one year from the date the award was sent to the parties by the arbitrators. The Act also states clearly the preconditions for enforcement as well as the reservations made by Thailand under both the Geneva and New York conventions. For instance, the court may refuse recognition if the subject matter of the dispute is not resolvable by arbitration or the recognition would be contrary to public policy or the good morals of Thailand. In addition, it must be legally valid and final in the country where the arbitration was held and at least one of the parties to the dispute must be a subject of one of the member countries of these conventions.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
Thai courts will compel arbitration if a written agreement to arbitrate exists between the parties. Interlocutory arbitration may be sanctioned by the courts upon the written request from the litigants concerned, if the court’s view is that expeditions and fair resolutions of the cases can be achieved by arbitration. Such a request may be made at any time during the trial, but must be submitted before the final judgment. An arbitrator will be appointed pursuant to the agreement of the litigants. Failing such an agreement, the court may appoint any arbitrator as it deems appropriate.
Arbitration Procedure
Before giving an award, the arbitrators are required to hear all the parties and may make enquiries as they deem appropriate. In the absence of a written agreement of the parties concerned or an order of the court, the arbitrators are also empowered to define issues or disputes and to adopt their own rules and procedures for hearings. The parties may present evidence and examine or cross-examine witnesses during the arbitration proceedings. Arbitrators’ fees may be fixed by agreement of the parties or by the courts. Witnesses’ fees may be fixed by the arbitrators, taking into consideration the “going rates”, which are generally approved by the courts.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Arbitration Tribunal of the Board of Trade  of The Thai Chamber of Commerce (Sectors Covered: All)

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Latest Update: July 2024