Tourists visiting Thailand now have access to special tourist courts set up to guarantee that visitors to the country enjoy an extra level of protection and greater peace of mind when spending their holidays here. The courts act as a one-stop-service for tourists seeking justice for unfair practices, scams, theft conflicts or accidents. Officials, including interpreters, are deployed at the local offices to receive complaints around the clock.
Started in 2013 under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourist Case Section Courts have been established by the Office of the Judiciary of Thailand in several locations and are aimed at giving tourists access to fast and fair justice.
To date, the Tourist Case Section Courts have operated in Pattaya and Phuket (since 2013), Bangkok (at Dusit and Pathumwan Courts since March 2014) Ko Samui and Chiang Mai (since 2014). Over the next few months, further courts will open in Krabi, Hua-Hin, Bangkok (at Phra Nakhon Nuea and Phra Nakhon Tai Courts), Sukhothai, Songkhla, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani.
Thailand is a famously safe place for tourists to visit, and the majority of travellers have no problems during their holidays here. But occasionally, visitors to the country are injured, become the victims of scams, or require legal defence or support to file a claim. Because tourists are usually in Thailand for a limited period, cases need to be heard within a shorter time frame. The Tourist Courts aim to ensure a standard case is resolved by the next working day though this depends on the complexity of the case.
In civil and consumer cases involving tourists, plaintiffs are assigned a court officer who takes evidence and statements from the tourists in advance of a hearing and liaises with interpreters, police and mediators. The court officer also meets with representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Office of the Attorney General on behalf of tourists.
In criminal cases, in which tourists are the injured party, a court officer is assigned to help lodge the initial complaint and coordinate with a public prosecutor. They can also arrange a representative for tourists who return to their home countries before their case can be resolved. When visitors to Thailand are the defendants, the court official liaises with their embassy, too.