There are many misconceptions and uncertainties about the Litigation System in Thailand.
Thailand is a civil law country. Most laws are codified and, unlike common law jurisdictions, the Thai courts are not bound by previous decisions. Stare decisis or compliance with former decisions of the Supreme Court is not mandatory, but in practice, Supreme Court decisions generally have a persuasive effect in the adjudication of disputes.
There is no jury system in Thailand. Cases are decided on the merits of the arguments and evidence submitted by the parties. Alternative dispute resolution is encouraged and settlements reached between the parties are respected by the court. Discovery (aka disclosure) procedures are still an unfamiliar concept in the system and are often difficult to enforce.
Actual damages are awarded, but punitive or exemplary damages are rarely awarded. This is often a significant issue in personal injury claims, where compensation is also usually sought for ‘pain and suffering.’ Thai courts are unlikely to award damages in this category.
Thai culture generally has a strong bias towards the amicable resolution of disputes. Thai courts prefer parties to act in a conciliatory way and make good faith efforts to resolve any dispute before court intervention. This is reflected in the common practice of mediation: courts of first instance will generally order the parties to attempt to resolve any dispute between themselves before the hearing of any substantive issues.