The Agreement on Civil and Criminal Cooperation with Foreign Countries of Thailand

     Legal officials in each country, such as courts, police, and prosecutors, only have jurisdiction within their respective countries. In cases that require proceeding in foreign countries, direct action by these officials is not feasible. They need to request the use of the power of the agencies of those countries to act on their behalf. This request must be made through diplomatic channels, stipulating that reciprocal assistance will be provided when a request is made from the other party. However, if Thailand has a civil or criminal cooperation agreement with a particular country, cooperation shall proceed according to that agreement.

Civil Cooperation

     Thai law grants the court the power to request civil cooperation from foreign courts to act on its behalf. Therefore, actions taken by foreign courts in such matters will have the same effect as if they were performed by the Thai court itself. Currently, Thailand has an Agreement on Judicial Cooperation in civil cases with six countries: Laos, Indonesia, China, Australia, Spain, and Vietnam. The cooperation will proceed according to these agreements.

     In cases where there is no civil cooperation agreement between Thailand and the other country, proceedings must be conducted through the Diplomatic Channel. When the Thai court has an order permitting a request for assistance from a foreign court, the court will send a request letter and all documents along with a translation in English or the foreign language to the Ministry of Justice to request that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs forward these to the embassy or consulate in the concerned country for further action.

     When the embassy/consulate receives the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it notifies the foreign affairs ministry of that country to request the competent authorities to act according to the law in that country. Once the action is completed, the foreign affairs ministry of that country will notify the result to the embassy/consulate. In the case of sending a copy of a complaint or summons, the defendant or recipient must sign the document as an acknowledgement to the embassy or consulate, which will then notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with any incurred expenses.

In the case where a foreign court requests the Thai court to proceed through the diplomatic channel, the request letter should include the following details:

  • Specify that it is a civil case.
  • Specify that the case is under consideration by the court.
  • Specify the necessity to investigate witnesses or what actions are requested from the court.
  • The name and address of the defendant or witness for whom the action is requested.
  • If there is a representative in the foreign country, specify the name, address, or office of that representative.
  • Inform how the costs and court fees will be managed.
  • Specify the case pledge in providing assistance to the Thai court reciprocally.

Criminal Cooperation

     Thailand has the 1992 International Criminal Cooperation Act as a framework for conducting international criminal cooperation between Thailand and other countries. This Act designates the Office of the Attorney General as the central coordinating agency, with the authority to consider requests for and provide criminal cooperation between Thailand and other nations.

     Thailand has agreements or Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) with seven countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and the People's Republic of China. This cooperation can be conducted directly between the central coordinators of the Thai side and those countries, bypassing diplomatic channels. However, if there is no criminal cooperation agreement, actions must be taken through the diplomatic channels of both parties and reciprocity principles must always be specified in the cooperation request.

     Currently, the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the unit coordinating between various embassies/consulates and the Office of the Attorney General on matters related to criminal cooperation, and with the Office of the Judiciary on matters related to civil cooperation. However, if a particular country has a civil or criminal cooperation agreement with Thailand, the cooperation proceeds as specified in that agreement.

 

Data updated on November 30, 2022
Source: Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel. +66 2575 1034


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