Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thailand: Update--Tourist Court in Pattaya Releases Ruling, Phuket to Follow, Prognosis Elusive

According to The Bangkok Post, a newly-constituted tourist court, a brainchild of the Tourism and Sports Ministry, unfortunately has had little "buy-in" from either the Royal Thai Police or the Justice Ministry, who really is where the "rubber meets the road."

On September 24, Phuket's first tourist court will be heard.

As conceived, the tourist courts. it is hoped, will promptly address civil and criminal actions brought by foreign tourists in the hope that their cases will be "fast-tracked" due to their brief stays in Thailand.

The debut of the Phuket court follows one in Pattaya, which opened on September 5. It handles civil and criminal cases lodged by local and foreign tourists.

Like the one in Pattaya, the Phuket court is part of the tourism division at the Phuket provincial court, with staff members serving tourists and a prompt ruling process, as fast as one day in some cases.

COMMENT: The first case to go before the court for tourists involved a speedboat accident in Pattaya on August 28. The family members of the two Chinese tourists killed in the "accident" lodged a complaint for compensation to the court after it opened on September 5.

The two Chinese died when a speedboat, the "Chok Suwannee 17," carrying 28 visitors back to Pattaya from Koh Larn struck the mooring chain of another tourist boat just before Bali Hai Cape.

The court on September 6, ordered the boat operator to pay 2.6 million baht (US$836,403) each to the families of the decedents in compensation for their loss, yet true effectiveness of the tourist courts will be in how quickly onetary judgments are processed into the hands of plaintiffs. 

In actuality, government administration in Thailand has always been long on rhetoric and short on results. 

Thus, it is no surprise that I look at a US$836,403 judgment with a very jaundiced eye, as it is very unlikely that the family members of the plaintiffs will ever see cash in hand on such a huge monetary ruling. 

Consequently, "on paper," the tourist courts may look good, but their results will be a failure.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.