Courts of Justice
What are civil actions?
Civil actions are lawsuits brought before courts whereby a party sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong.
Civil cases generally cover property and business disputes, personal domestic controversies, divorces, torts, and such other types where a party's rights are breached.
While many disputes may be settled amicably, the injured party, called the “Plaintiff” eventually goes to court after he determines that the controversy can no longer be resolved without judicial intervention. The Plaintiff, through his lawyer, must file a complaint in writing with an appropriate Court of First Instance, clearly setting out the nature of his claim, the relief sought and the allegations upon which the claim is based. The party against whom the case is filed is called the "Respondent."
Filing a civil case requires more than having an issue for the courts to deliberate on. Proper procedure for the filing of actions must be followed before the court accepts cases.
Thai Courts of Justice
There are three levels of Courts of Justice in Thailand: the Courts of First instance the Court of Appeals and the Supreme (Dika) Court.
The Courts of First Instance (CFIs) are commonly known as the trial courts. This is the venue where cases are first lodged so that questions both of fact and of law are heard for the court's adjudication. CFIs are further subdivided to three divisions, namely: General Courts, Juvenile and Family Court, and Specialized Courts.
The Court of Appeals is the proper court where issues on decisions from the CFIs are brought. In Thailand, both questions of law and of fact may still be raised before the Appellate Court.
The Supreme (Dika) Court is the Highest court of justice in Thailand. Most often, the issues raised before the Dika court involve only questions of law, although there are instances when the High Court is made to re-hear questions involving the facts of the case. The Dika Court likewise exercises exclusive appellate power over cases decided by the Specialized Courts.
General Practices in Thai Judicial Trials
There is no Jury system in Thailand. Judges alone decide cases based on the merits presented by the parties. Proceedings are held in the Thai language, save in some exceptions. Res judicata does not strictly apply in Thailand, although decisions rendered previously may influence the courts when making decisions for new ones.
Civil courts use the Continuous Trial System, meaning that all hearings are scheduled and conducted continuously until it is finished.
Court Proceedings are held in the native tongue (except in the IPITC). Pleadings are likewise submitted in the Thai language. Testimonial and documentary evidence in foreign language must be translated into Thai before they are recorded in court. Unlike in many jurisdictions, Modes of Discovery are not known in Thailand.
Foreign civil judgments are not recognized by Thai courts. Parties who wish to enforce a foreign judgment need to file new proceedings in Thailand. The judgment rendered by the foreign court is, however, admissible as evidence in the local trial. The petitioning party has to prove before Thai courts that the foreign judgment was rendered by a court of correct jurisdiction, and that the judgment has reached finality.