Stages of Civil Prosecution
The Trial Proper
The issues to be tried during the trial proper shall be confined to those joined during pre-trial. The prosecution is first to present witnesses and evidence, to be followed by the respondent after the prosecution rests its case.
The hearing dates for the plaintiff and the defendant will be set on consecutive hearing dates. On the hearing date, the accusatorial process will be employed and witnesses are subject to examination both by the prosecution and by the defense.
Rules on Evidence are to be observed during trial, although the court allows exceptions to these rules if the court deems that such will meet the ends of justice. For example, copies of documents can be submitted and considered admissible in certain instances, instead of the originals. Microfilm and facsimile copies are not considered as valid pieces of evidence, although they are made admissible under limited circumstances. Foreign documents may be admitted in court, but only after the same are authenticated by the Thai Embassy or Consulate in the foreigner’s country and translated into Thai.
Temporary Injunctions, preliminary judgments and other preliminary remedies are granted very rarely in Thailand. Extreme circumstances warranting The petitioner has to prove that the opposing party intends to transfer, sell or dispose of the whole or part of his property, or remove from the jurisdiction of the court the assets which may be attached in case of an adverse judgment.
Execution Of Judgment
The Court of First Instance which rendered judgment has the power to issue writs of execution against the losing party. The execution writ does not always involve payment, but also performance or desistance of an act.
Once a judgment has been rendered, a degree of judgment is issued by the court. Generally, the court allows one month from the time of service or acknowledgment of receipt of judgment within which the losing party may comply with the order.
If the losing party does not comply with the court’s order to pay, perform or desist, the winning party may file an independent execution case with the Execution Court. The decision and the writ of execution rendered by the awarding court shall be presented in the execution case. Usually too, at this stage, albeit a little late, the winning party launches an asset investigation in an effort to check the financial status and activities of the losing party.
Judgments rendered by courts may be appealed against by any party who is not satisfied with such decision. The appeal is brought before the court which has jurisdiction to hear appeals from such lower court.
No appeal is available in cases where the money or property involved amounts to less than 20,000 Thai baht.
In civil actions involving 50,000 Thai baht or less, no appeal can be made on a question of fact, unless one of the Court of First Instance judges dissents or certifies that reasonable grounds exist for the Appeals Court to consider questions of fact.
Generally, the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to hear appeals for decisions rendered by the Courts of First Instance, while the Supreme (Dika) Court exercises jurisdiction on appeals from the Court of Appeals. However, there are instances when decisions from the Courts of First Instance can be appealed directly with the Dika Court.
An appeal must be lodged within 30 days from the date of judgment by submitting a Petition with the court which issued the judgment. The lower court then transfers the records of the case to the higher court which will hear the appeals case.
Decisions of the appeals court are generally cased on the documents forwarded by the lower court, the Petition submitted by the party, and the Respondent’s Answer to the Petition for Appeal. No new documentary evidence may be submitted. Verbal arguments are also generally unacceptable, save in exceptional circumstances.
The decision of the Court of Appeals may be any of the following:
- It may affirm or uphold the decision of the lower court;
- It may declare the decision to be erroneous and remand it to the lower court with an order to enter a judgment as specified by the Court of Appeals;
- It may remand the case to the lower court for new trial;
- It may deliver judgment on the case itself.
Presently, the Court of Appeals issues decisions within a year or two.
In Civil actions involving 200,000 Thai baht or less, no Supreme Court appeal can be made on a question of fact, unless one of the Appeals Court judges dissents or certifies that reasonable grounds exist for the Supreme Court to consider questions of fact.
When making its decisions, the Supreme Court uses as basis the Petition for Appeal and other written documents forwarded by the lower court. As in the Appeals court, no new evidence may be submitted save in extreme circumstances as the court may deem necessary.
Proceedings in the Dika Court last from a year and a half to two years.