Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

Thailand in Asia

According to the work “Guide to Foreign and International Citations”, by the Journal of International Law and Politics (New York University School of Law):

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy comprised of seventy-six provinces (Changwat).
Thailand’s official language is Thai. Its legal system is based primarily on the civil law tradition,
but it is also influenced by the common law tradition.

The Constitution, signed by King Phumiphon in 1997, establishes the form of
government. Executive power is vested in the Government. The King, who is the head of state,
is the hereditary monarch. The King has power to convene the National Assembly, veto
legislation, dissolve the House of Representatives, issue Emergency Decrees in relation to
national security, issue Royal Decrees, declare war, declare and lift martial law, and conclude
peace treaties. The Prime Minister, who is the head of the Government, is designated from
among the members of the House of Representatives, and appointed by the King. In practice, the Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party that can organize a majority coalition in the
House of Representatives. The Cabinet is comprised of a Council of Ministers and a Privy

Legislative power is vested in the bicameral National Assembly (Rathasapha), which
consists of the Senate (Wuthisapha) and the House of Representatives (Sapha Phuthaen
Ratsadon). The 200 Members of the Senate are directly elected by the people to six-year terms,
while the 500 Members of the House of Representatives are directly elected by the people to
four-year terms. Among other powers, the National Assembly controls the administration of
state affairs, approves various issues such as succession to the throne, and declares wars. Only
members of the House of Representatives may introduce bills and organic law bills. After the
House of Representatives passes a bill or an organic law bill, it is sent to the Senate for
consideration for a maximum of sixty days.

Judicial power is vested in the courts. The Constitutional Court is the highest court of
appeals. Its jurisdiction, however, is limited to clearly defined constitutional issues. Members of
the Constitutional Court are nominated by the Senate and appointed by the King. The Courts of
Justice have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases and are organized in three tiers: Courts of
First Instance (Sarn Pang for civil matters, and Sarn Aya for criminal cases), the Court of
Appeals (Sarn Uthorn), and the Supreme Court of Justice (Sarn Dika). In addition, Provincial
courts (Sarn Changwat) exercise unlimited original civil and criminal jurisdiction outside
Bangkok. The Court of Appeals consists of three regional courts and a Bangkok court.

The Supreme Court, which consists of fifteen divisions, has jurisdiction to hear all appeals. Judges are appointed and removed by the King upon the recommendation of the Court of Justice of Judicial Commission. In Thailand’s southern provincines, where Muslims constitute a majority of the population, Provincial Islamic Committees have specialized jurisdiction over family, marriage, and probate matters. Finally, specialized courts, such as the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, the International Trade Court, and the Central Bankruptcy Court, deal with particular commercial matters.

Thailand Online Legal Resources



  • Acts Various topics. (Office of the Judiciary). In Thai and English.
  • Thailand Law Reform Commission. (official website): In Thai and English. Includes new acts, various collections of acts, bills, regulations and more. Fully searchable in English, however full text results are in Thai.
  • Legislation (Minister of Justice). In Thai and English.

Laws By Subject




  • Thailand The Asian Development Bank provides a number of fact sheets, country reports, project summaries including legal initiatives and more. (Asian Development Bank).

More Thai Government Websites

More Thai Law Websites

Note: We linked the resources to in an effort to decrease the number of broken links cited.

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