Thailand’s courts have been in the news a lot lately, and what you see depends on where you stand. Connecting the Dots has decided to just give this a once over just so the picture is clear.
Connecting the Dots does not want to pose any disrespect to the Thai courts, all we wish to do is make a call as it appears to us today. This is only our opinion and observations based on interviews and is seen in very general terms. The common answers from interviews are reflected.
In short there are the high courts and the general courts. For the most part the high courts have been outstanding for the past 2 years. That fact is supported by a bunch of grumbling corrupt politicians looking to change the Constitution or grant themselves immunity. Any honest law abiding Thai would be proud to say this is the court in my country.
Moving down to the next level of general courts, fairness can vary depending on how corrupt the players are. In the court, the players are lawyers and judges. The other facts that can taint fairness is who the parties are. The combinations are Thai vs Thai, Thai vs non Thai, and non Thai vs Non Thai.
In the situation of Thai vs Thai, based on what is heard on the street, the winner is the one that can pay the biggest bribe. We can cite no specific example of this other than how the average Thai on the street sees the courts. Seeing as reform in Thailand is relatively new, there is a high chance this is true.
In a situation of Thai vs non Thai, it certainly seems the court is leaning towards the Thai. One can assume the Thai may be willing to bribe the court, where if the non Thai was to take such a risk in trying to bribe the court, loads of unpleasant events could be bestowed on them should the judge be on the up and up. This is also supported by street talk that Thais never lose in court when going against a non Thai.
When it comes to non Thai vs non Thai what happens is probably on the up and up. Case in point, there is no incentive on the court to be anything other than fair. There is one such semi high profile case going on with an online heckler who is finding out why there are no tabloids in Thailand. He continues to post about his case as well as continuing to heckle. It is very obvious to even the most casual onlooker this person has some psychiatric issues by wanting to draw attention to himself. From all accounts he looks like he will lose his case and spend some time in jail before being deported. By all accounts and Thai law, that would be a proper call for the court.
Also when it comes to the Thai courts, only Thais are seen as professionals. Figuratively speaking, if a non Thai doctor is brought in as a witness, a Thai medical clerk without a degree will be seen as the expert outweighing the doctor simply because they are Thai.
So in general as always it is best to behave yourself and avoid the courts in Thailand the same as you would any other place in the world.
Note: This post was written March 30, 2009. I does not take into consideration any specific events after that time.