Resort to court action is a common approach to dispute resolution in both the private and commercial sectors. With the influx of joint public and private investments, new businesses, and private property purchases, Thailand has also seen an inevitable rise in the volume of litigation. The additional strain on an already overburdened judicial system has meant that disputes can often take years to reach a conclusion.
As in many other jurisdictions, Thailand has recognised the benefits and encouraged the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a practical adjunct or alternative to court proceedings. The Thai authorities encourage the use of ADR through institutions like the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office of the Office of the Judiciary and the Thai Board of Trade.
Using the mechanisms of Arbitration and Mediation, parties are encouraged to take a more conciliatory and less adversarial approach to dispute resolution than is typically found in traditional court proceedings. The benefits to parties to a dispute, particularly for foreign litigants, can be significant. See our Arbitration FAQ for more on the potential advantages for foreign litigants.
Arbitration in Thailand takes two forms. The far less common method of in court arbitration is where an arbitration takes place while a case is pending consideration by a lower court. Parties to the dispute may agree to submit one or more issues in dispute to one or more arbitrators for settlement.
Far more common is the practice of out of court arbitration, based on the Arbitration Act of 2002, where disputes are submitted to one or more arbitrators for resolution. Disputes that are less complex or of a relatively low value are usually submitted to one arbitrator, whereas higher value, more complex disputes are generally heard by three arbitrators. Parties must agree on the appointment of an arbitrator(s). If an agreement cannot be reached, an application to the Thai court can be made. Applications may also be made to the court before or during an arbitration in respect of questions of jurisdiction, the summons of witnesses, the disclosure of documents and interim remedies such as injunctions and other interim orders.
Parties must have a binding agreement to arbitrate and disputes are usually submitted for adjudication to one of either the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office of the Office of the Judiciary or the Thai Board of Trade. Each institution has its own Arbitration Rules. Parties may also agree to Ad Hoc Arbitration, commonly under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce rules or UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
The Arbitration Act of 2002 and the Thai Civil Procedure Code govern out of court arbitration and once an arbitration award is rendered it is enforceable by a Thai court. Foreign arbitration awards are also enforceable under the Act, provided the conditions of the relevant Conventions are met. Please feel free to contact us for more details.