The Labor Court in Thailand

Labor Litigation in Thailand

The Foundation

The Act on the Establishment of, and Procedure for, Labor Court B. E. 2522 created this court in 1979. It separates cases and issues surrounding employment from regular civil cases through the application of the Labor Protection Act of 1998 and the Civil and Commercial Code, employment acts and statutes. The Ministers of Justice and the Interior were in charge of the Act and authorized to issue regulations that would implement it. The Central Labor Court has jurisdiction over the entire country and is located in Bangkok.

This Court handles all disputes relating to emplloyment, such as labor protection, unfair labor practices or discrimination, and relations, appeals on labor decisions by labor officials or by the Minister concerning wrongful acts in labor disputes or performance. 

Composition and Terms

A quorum consists of a career judge, one associate judge for employer rights and another for employee rights for the court to adjudicate. They and recruited laymen must all possess competent knowledge of, and experience in, labor law and employment matters. These two associate judges are elected by respective organizations of employers and labor unions within a given territory of a labor court. They are trained for their official functions, hold their respective offices and may be reappointed.

Section 12 of the Act states that these judges shall be the King’s appointees from among judicial officials in the government who possess the required knowledge, expertise, experience and insights on labor problems and matters. A Chief Justice will also be appointed for the Central Labor Court and in each of the nine regional labor courts. The Minister of Justice shall appoint the number of Deputy Chief Justices according to the individual needs of the regional courts.

Section 14 provides for the appointment of associate judges by the King from among the representatives of employer and employee organizations from the list of the Labor Department. In the absence of such organizations in a given region, the King will appoint the representatives from the list compiled by the Labor Department for both employers and employees. They shall qualify as Thai nationals, as sui juris, residents of the region or territory with jurisdiction over the given labor court and must have faith in the democratic rule of the King as the head of state. Proposed representatives shall be disqualified if they are bankrupt, incompetent or quasi-incompetent; have been sentenced to imprisonment as final verdict except when committed by neglect or a petty offense; convicted of any offense against the labor protection  or relations law unless released for no less than two years or the lapse of the suspension of imprisonment period; or are political officials, committee members of any political party, the National Assembly, of the Bangkok Metropolitan Assembly or an elected member of the local council or a legal practitioner.

Before they assume office, the appointees shall solemnly declare that they will perform their duties with impartiality towards employers or employees and to treat official secrets with utmost confidentiality. They shall do so before the Chief Justice of the Central Labor Court or of the regional labor court or the provincial court where they belong. They will serve for two. The King may reappoint those among them who will retire.

Their appointment shall cease with the expiration of their term; death; resignation or the uncovering of a lack of qualification or commission of any disqualifications above mentioned; upon conviction and when sentenced with imprisonment by final verdict or court order; or when the King terminates his appointment because of unjustified absences for two consecutive times or when found guilty of any act that leads to dismissal, according to the law on judicial service. A judicial service commission must approve the termination or dismissal due to the fourth and sixth offenses.

Proceedings

The first step is mediation, which is mandatory. If no agreement is reached, the dispute is elevated to the court for trial. At any stage during the trial, the litigants can choose to come to a settlement and opt for mediation. But if the trial proceeds, it must be concluded in three days. 

Appeals filed at the Central Labor Court proceed directly to the Supreme Court. But only appeals of a decision or order, based on questions of law, are admissible and must be submitted within 15 days from the issuance of the decision or order. 

Jurisdictions

  • Disputes over the rights or duties stipulated in an employment agreement or their state;
  • Disputes over rights or duties under the labor protection law;
  • Disputes over rights that need to be exercised under the labor protection law or labor relations;
  • Appealed cases under the labor protection law or rendered by the Labor Relations Committee or the Minister on labor relations;
  • Cases of wrongful acts in the process of a labor dispute or performance under an employment agreement; and
  • Labor disputes from the Minister relating to labor relations.

Appeals

These can be filed only on the question of law  and with the Supreme Court within 15 days upon the pronouncement. An appeal shall first be filed with the labor court that hands down the questioned decision. The labor court shall serve a copy of the appeal to the respondent within seven days from the date of filing of the appeal. If the respondent does not submit an answer or fails to answer within the specified period, the labor court shall promptly elevate the appeal with the Supreme Court.
An appeal does not interrupt the execution of the verdict or order but the party that appeals may submit grounds in applying for an order for the stay of the execution with the Supreme Court. In this case, the Supreme Court shall promptly act on the appeal by relying on the facts established by the labor court. Should there be an insufficiency of facts, the Supreme Court shall order the labor court to hear the case in order to secure further facts. When done, the case should be filed with the Supreme Court promptly. If the labor court finds that new facts may change its decision, it will have to declare a new verdict by applying mutatis mutandis. The Supreme Court may establish a Labor Case Division within the Supreme Court itself. Its function will be to adjudicate appealed labor cases. And when necessary or in the interest of justice, The Supreme Court may also seek the expertise of knowledgeable individuals to appear and provide their opinion on these cases for the Supreme Court’s consideration.

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