The Thai court system is a bit different from those of the Westminster-type system. As Thai laws had not originated out of the British legal system it might in some parts resemble it but they are different. Thailand does not have a jury system as they have in the United States. There is a judge or judges who specialize in the dispute at hand. Hence Thailand much like other British legal systems has special courts outside of the normal courts.
If you wish to see the legal system in action then spend a month at a law firm in Thailand as an intern to see the workings of the system. Many Western lawyers are new to laws in Asia to this on a regular basis in Thailand and Hong Kong.
The general courts are divided into the following sections:
- Civil Courts
- Criminal Courts
- Municipal Courts
- Provincial Courts
Each province in Thailand has its own provincial courts and municipal courts. As Bangkok is such a large city, it is split into two sections. All matters are heard in the Bangkok Court, however, any matters in the Northern parts of Bangkok will be heard by the Minburi Court. So if you are arrested in Silom, you will be sent to Bangkoks Provincial Court, yet if you are arrested in say Bangkapi you will appear before the Minburi court. Here we are talking about provincial courts and not municipal courts.
The municipal courts in Thailand are there to hear smaller matters. These are matters where the civil claim does not exceed 300,000 Baht, or the fine or prison sentence does not exceed 3 years, or a fine exceeding 60,000 Baht.
Another difference between the municipal courts and that of the general courts is that in the general court there have to be two judges whereas in the case of the municipal court you only need one judge to hear the case.