Thailand has a civil code, commercial code, and a bankruptcy law. Monetary judgments are calculated at the market exchange rate. Decisions of foreign courts are not accepted or enforceable in Thai courts. Disputes such as the enforcement of property or contract rights have generally been resolved through the Thai courts.
Thailand has an independent judiciary that generally is effective in enforcing property and contractual rights. The legal process is slow in practice, however, and litigants or third parties sometimes affect judgments through extra-legal means.
In addition, companies may establish their own arbitration agreements. Thailand signed the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States in 1985, but has not yet ratified the Convention. Thailand is a member of the New York Convention and enacted its own rules on conciliation and arbitration in the Arbitration Act of 2002. The 2002 Arbitration Act adopted the principles under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The Arbitration Office of the Ministry of Justice administers these procedures.
The Bankruptcy Act was amended in 1999 to provide Chapter 11-style protection to debtors, and to give debtors and creditors the option of negotiating a reorganization plan through the courts instead of forcing liquidation. The Act now allows creditors to extend additional loans to insolvent firms without losing the right to claim compensation during a future restructuring or liquidation process, but only if the new loan is intended to keep the firm in operation. Also in 1999, the Act was amended to facilitate the financial restructuring process. Higher minimum levels for individual and corporate bankruptcies were established, and the previous ten-year period of bankruptcy status was reduced to three years. The 1999 Bankruptcy Act also established a specialized court for bankruptcy cases. The Bankruptcy Courts are divided into the Central Bankruptcy Court which has jurisdiction throughout the Bangkok Metropolitan areas and the Regional Bankruptcy Courts.
In 2004, Parliament approved changes to the Bankruptcy Act including tightening the rules under which some debtors can emerge from bankruptcy status and streamlining the legal appeals process in bankruptcy and restructuring cases. In an effort to quicken the foreclosure process, amendments to the Civil Procedure Code on Execution of Judgments have limited appeal options available to debtors. Under the old regulations, debtors were free to appeal each action taken with respect to the execution of a bankruptcy judgment. Such appeals, often frivolous in nature, were one of the tactics debtors used to delay the foreclosure process. In June 2001, the Supreme Court set an important legal precedent by ruling in favor of implementing a creditor-backed corporate restructuring plan opposed by the former owner of the business in question. The Act was later amended in 2005 by granting the Bankruptcy Court the power to consider bankruptcy cases that involve criminal matters.
Individual cases can take months or even years to work their way through the legal system, however, and many businesses have urged the government to speed up the bankruptcy procedure. In 2006, new procedural rules were established to accelerate the bankruptcy court proceedings by encouraging the use of electronic equipment and express mail in communications between courts. Under the new rules, provincial courts have the authority to issue search warrants and arrest warrants, and to imprison or release a defendant. Other amendments to the Bankruptcy Act are currently under consideration.
In 2009, the Bankruptcy Court issued verdicts on 33,061 cases.
Investment Climate Statements provide a thorough description of the overseas environments in which U.S. investors must operate. The statements cover general characteristics, such as openness to foreign investment and treatment of foreign investors, as well as details about procedures for licensing and similar administrative matters. The statements are updated each year as Chapter 7 in the Country Commercial Guides, a series to be found by country at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s website: http://www.export.gov/.
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