Pattaya, Thailand- Sept. 5, 2013: Hearings involving tourists are now expedited by setting up a special court referred to as “Tourist Court” with extended office hours in Pattaya. Police, prosecutors, the courts of justice and the Tourism Ministry signed the agreement to establish Thai Tourist Court.
The foreign travelers spending short trips and holidays to the country are the key player to Thailand’s tourism industry. When unlikely events happen during their stay in Thailand such as incidents of crimes or violation of their rights, these foreign tourists may seek justice by filing civil or criminal cases, be it against another tourist or Thai person. But what impedes these tourists to file legal action is their short and limited stay in Thailand considering the slow Thai judicial system. Government agencies respond to foreign travelers’ need by providing fast-track legal process, thus the birth of tourist court. Minor legal issues and uncomplicated disputes of tourists can be resolved through Tourist Court before they leave the country. This is an answer to the sentiment of short-stay tourists in Thailand for a judicial process.
Thai tourist court commenced first at Pattaya, a beach resort city popular for tourists. Inauguration of Pattaya Tourist Court was held in Sept 9, 2013 operating from 4:30pm to 8:30 pm (night court). Eventually, Pattaya tourist court seeks to open from 8:30am to 8:30pm on weekdays, and 8:30am to 4:30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Following Pattaya Tourist Court, six more night courts are planned – Pathum Wan district for the Silom area and Dusit District for Khaosan in Bangkok, Krabi, Samui, Chiang Mai and Phuket. There will be one tourist court to be opened at Suvarnabhumi Airport to assist more tourist complaints.
Tourist court can handle tourist complaints involving personal security, thefts, robberies, unfair business dealings/services, pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, credit card fraud, scams, conflicts, accidents, injuries, and deaths.
Tourist Court vs. Regular Court
A typical legal case which takes 6 months in regular court will be resolved in one day in tourist court. Felony cases with serious penalty like murder, rape, defamation, homicide, terrorism will take months or years in regular court yet can be cut to a week in tourist court. Final judgment for legal cases is faster in tourist court compared to a regular court.
Tourist court encourages settlement of disputes and negotiations between two opposing parties until they reach a compromise. Judges suitable for Tourist Court would be those who have negotiation and language skills and more familiar with tourist law since this is a special court for foreigners.
First case handled
Pattaya Tourist Court successfully handled its first case, a speedboat accident that killed 2 Chinese tourists last Aug 28 in Bali Hai Pier. Settlement happened between the two parties, insurance company and the offending party paid compensation money to the family of the victims.
Pattaya Tourist Court Procedure
The First Thai Tourist Court in Pattaya is a special court designed to protect Thailand tourists who have a limited time in Thailand by providing swift resolution on cases, complaints and legal disputes. This special court can oversee minor legal issues and disputes involving tourists. Serious and complicated issues will be transferred to regular court.
Tourist court is under Thai judicial system and it will use existing Thai laws yet facilitated in a faster manner as compared to regular court. Judicial process for tourist in Thailand will be more in line with international standards because it can use translators (English, Chinese, Russian), while regular Thai court use only Thai language. Due to distance issues, video-conference to hear witness testimonies across provinces is allowed in a tourist court.