Trade Disputes in Thailand

In the event of a dispute, conciliation can be sought before or during the trial at the discretion of the judge. In addition, there are several out-of-court mediation services available.

Thailand’s Intellectual Property and International Trade Court is a vital institution that fosters innovation, protects creators, and facilitates international trade partnerships.


Arbitration is a highly efficient process that can provide a quicker resolution than litigating in court. It also provides for a private and confidential settlement of disputes.

When a case is presented to a Thai court with an arbitration clause that appears to be legally enforceable, the court will typically conduct an inquiry hearing to determine its enforceability in accordance with the provisions of Section 11 of the 2002 Arbitration Act. In doing so, the court will confirm that an arbitration clause can be considered separate from and independent of the primary contract.

The court will also confirm that an arbitration proceeding is confidential. Additionally, the courts will streamline its procedures for foreign arbitrators and counsel to obtain work permits to participate in arbitration proceedings. This will help to address a previous issue that discouraged foreign arbitrators from accepting appointments in Thailand due to the complex permit requirements.


There are ten labor courts in Thailand, including nine regional appeals courts and the central court in Bangkok. Each court has a panel of judges comprising one career judge and another from employer or employee federations. The courts resolve cases within four or six months from the filing of complaints. The courts also hold pretrial conferences with the parties to shorten and hasten proceedings.

If the parties agree to mediation, they can designate their own mediator or make use of the services offered by the Thai Mediation Center. If both parties are satisfied with the settlement reached at the mediation session, the dispute case can be withdrawn from the court’s docket.

Arbitration is a popular alternative to litigation in Thailand. The country has a comprehensive arbitration law based on UNCITRAL’s Model Law with additional Thai specific provisions. A party may opt for arbitration either before or after a dispute arises, and can choose the rules and institute as well as the number of arbitrators to serve.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

On average, out-of-court arbitration proceedings take at least a year to resolve. Mediation can be a quicker and more cost-effective process.

A professional mediator works with disputants to explore their interests in the dispute and helps them hammer out a solution that satisfies both sides. The process is confidential, voluntary, and non-binding.

If parties choose a two-arbitrator tribunal, the arbitrators will be selected from a list of three potential arbitrators. The parties must remove the names of those they do not prefer and appoint their preferred arbitrator within 15 days.

In late 2008, the Philippines submitted a complaint against Thailand for allegedly imposing unfair tariffs on imported cigarettes. The World Trade Organization (WTO) established a panel to review the matter. On 22 February 2011, the panel issued its Panel Report and by 17 June, the Appellate Body issued its Report, which upheld the majority of the panel’s findings.

Intellectual Property and International Trade Court

Thailand recognizes the importance of intellectual property rights and fair international trade practices. It has established a specialized court to protect such rights and promote an environment conducive to business.

Counterfeiting is a widespread problem in Thailand and affects many different industries. It causes significant economic losses for legitimate trademark owners and can pose health risks to consumers.

In 2019, the government launched a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights based on UNGPs to prevent adverse impacts of business operations on human rights. However, consistent and predictable enforcement of government regulations remains problematic. Gratuitous payments to civil servants responsible for regulatory oversight remain common despite stringent gift bans at some agencies.

Under the new Rules of the IP&IT Court, if parties agree that documents submitted to the Court do not require Thai translation and such translation would be costly or difficult, the Court may exercise discretion to permit submission without translation. This is a welcome change.

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