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Thai Law Insights

New Screening Measures for Thai Supreme Court Appeals: Perceptions of Legal Practitioner

Chatchawarl Sornsurarsdr

chatchawarls@csbc-law.com

The Act (Act No. 27) to amend the Civil Procedure Code was passed by the National Assembly Council and was published in the Royal Gazette on 8 September 2015. The effective date is 6 November 2015.

Under the present law, any decision from an appellant court can be appealed to the Supreme Court if the appeal is based on a question of law. This criterion is very broad and left the door open for many unnecessary appeals. Act No. 27 now provides that all appeals to the Thai Supreme Court to contest a judgment or order decided by an appellate court will be subject to prior evaluation as to whether such appeal is eligible for Supreme Court consideration, review and adjudication.

The reasoning behind Act No. 27 is to limit the number of Supreme Court appeals if the Supreme Court deems that the appellate court’s judgment or order was correct and no further judicial review is warranted. The present court rules did not provide this kind of efficient legal mechanism to screen cases filed with the Thai Supreme Court. In light of the large number of cases on appeal to the Thai Supreme Court under the present rules and the resultant delays, Act. No. 27 aims to reduce the Supreme Court’s backlog and restore trust in the efficiency of the national judicial system.

Under Act No. 27, The Thai Supreme Court itself will evaluate the merits of each appeal to determine which cases it will actually agree to hear. Act No. 27 sets forth the following criteria for questions of law which should be adjudicated by the Thai Supreme Court as follows:

  1. Question of law involving the public interest or good moral or public order;
  2. When a judgment or order issued by an appellate court includes an important question of law, in which the application of such law may have been different in a similar case or, which may not be in accord with a Supreme Court judgment or order considered as a set precedent;
  3. When a judgment or order issued by an appellate court includes an important decision of law on a question of law not yet decided at the Supreme Court level;
  4. When a judgment or order issued by an appellate court is not in accord with a final judgment or final order rendered by an extra-judicial authority;
  5. When a decision by the Supreme Court would provide clarity or helpful information for future development and guidance for the lower courts; and
  6. When the appeal includes a question of law which may be prescribed by Ordinance of the Supreme Court President, which will be effective subsequent to approval by a general meeting of the Supreme Court judges; and announced in the Royal Gazette.

If an appeal is not accepted by the Supreme Court, the judgment or final order issued by the Appellate Court will be final from the date it was announced.

Act No. 27 will not apply to any complaint filed with the Court of First Instance before 6 November 2015. Lastly, we all hope the Act No. 27 will help resolve problems with delays and backlogs, not only within the Thai Supreme Court, but the entire court system. Some lawyers may argue that prior to Act No. 27, Supreme Court appeals were often filed merely to buy time a delay a final decision by the courts, which often resulted in the Supreme Court merely affirming the appellate court’s decision. Others would argue that the present volume of Supreme Court appeals would not be necessary if the courts of first instance and the appellate courts made “better” decisions on questions of law. Therefore, Act No. 27 may encourage the lower courts to make more concise and well-reasoned judgments, according to the law; thus, narrowing the avenue of cases to only those which truly merit a Supreme Court review.