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Overview of Information about Thailand

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:: The Rice Basket of Asia
:: Opportunities in Thailand
:: Legal infrastructure
:: Economic Overview

King Chulalongkorn
Pictured right is King Chulalongkorn who established the modern Thai legal system.
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Legal infrastructure

A foreign investor looking at a project or transaction in Thailand for the first time will find a legal framework and administrative practices, which satisfactorily govern most business transactions. The role of the law, lawyers and the judiciary in Thailand has been long established. It is a system within which most foreign and local investors can operate comfortably with a high degree of confidence in consistent interpretation and enforcement of the law.

The modern Thai legal system is long established, dating from the reign of King Chulalongkorn (pictured above) in 1868. A Ministry of Justice was established in 1892. The Thai Bar Association was established in 1914. Its members presently number over 63,000 and include judges, prosecutors, practicing lawyers, professors, and others.

There is an independent judiciary that provides a forum for fair settlement of disputes. A high status is attached to being a judge, and the examinations to enter the judiciary are very difficult. The judiciary jealously guards its independence. Government agencies may be sued in the courts, and cannot raise a defense of sovereign immunity. However, state property is not subject to execution.

There is a Thai civil service that administers laws and regulations with a high degree of consistency, and is largely free from political influences. Few, if any, decisions in a normal business transaction or investment project require going above the civil service for a political decision.

There are four basic codes: Civil and Commercial Code, Criminal Code, Civil Procedure Code, and Criminal Procedure Code. In adopting these codes early in this century, Thailand selected features from the two western legal systems (common law and civil law), and adapted them to circumstances in Thailand. Decisions and rulings of the judiciary and civil service are not binding but have considerable force as precedents. In addition, there are the Land Code, the Revenue Code and hundreds of special laws and regulations governing most areas of commercial activity, many of them drafted and implemented with the assistance of international legal advisors. The legal and accounting professions are regulated under professional licensing systems, which encourage high standards of service.

Although Thai is the language of the courts, most contracts between private parties may be executed in English or other foreign languages, and may be governed by foreign law.

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