Over the past few years the top tier Thai courts have simply been stellar in their performance. Because of the care involved to follow the law and all its procedures, there is a real sense of fairness. Unfortunately that is not the case with second tier Thai courts.
A second tier Thai court is essentially the court of the people. They deal with rendering decisions that involve only a few people. Perhaps a civil case or some other criminal cases. Cases that involve communities are usually sent to the top tier.
Connecting the Dots has taken the time to review some recent cases that involved everything from a Thai employee caught steeling to contract disputes. In all cases it was Thai vs non Thai, and in all cases the Thai one the case.
There was one particularly disturbing case in that the Thai employee was caught steeling and it was observed by security cameras. The evidence was clear and undeniable with the totals stolen well exceeding several hundred thousand Baht. In this case the judge suggested that the foreign owned company consider it be a form of charity and then slammed down his gavel. To add salt to the wound the company was ordered to pay the severance package under Thai labor law being some 90,000 Baht in this case as it was a well paid employee. Had this happened in a non tainted court, the Thai employee would be looking at more than a few years in jail simply because of the value of the theft. Another consideration is this was in Bangkok and not some provincial court where things are even worse.
Simply this is how it has been, and this is how it still is. Unfortunately the deeper you go in tiers, the more you find. Thai courts are simply a long way from being cleaned up. Too much money is changing hands and that is unfortunate for people seeking justice.
High profile cases like the murder of a tourist or other things that impact Thailand’s economy are treated differently. There are too many eyes watching, so in this case the second tier courts act as the law intended with very few exceptions.
When it comes to Thai vs Thai, this still seems to come down to a wallet battle and not a legal battle. Who has a fatter wallet wins in most cases unless it is so obvious the judge may risk his seat if seen to go the wrong way. This ignoring of the law Thai mentality was highlighted during the recent Red Shirt riots. The thought that they could buy their way out of trouble was very obvious.
How and when this will change will be greatly effected by the next general elections for parlement and Prime Minister. If Abhisit remains in power, then this will signal that change is coming sooner than later. If some other party gets control, then whatever gains may just come unraveled and things will stay the same.