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Statutes of Limitation (Prescription) in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing what in the west or in the common law jurisdictions we would call statutes of limitations or a statute of limitations; in Thailand this is actually called prescription, so they use a different sort of terminology with respect to this. 

Now also keep in mind that Thai legal terms are in Thai so we are using translations from the Thai but as noted in previous videos, and I will go into it a little bit here again, Thailand is not what we would call a common law jurisdiction or a Westminster jurisdiction. It does not use the Anglo-Saxon law that has been handed down through most of the Anglosphere. It is a Civil Law jurisdiction in many ways similar to jurisdictions on the continent of Europe and other jurisdictions throughout the world.

Thailand is very unique with respect to its own civil law. It has many twists and turns that are uniquely Thai so extrapolating or making assumptions based on other bodies of law and try to apply them to Thailand is not necessarily a great idea. So we are going to go ahead and get into the Thai Criminal Code. You can find this on You can go to our resources section and there is a button there to find the Thai Criminal Code. Now under Chapter 9 there is a specific action for Prescription. Section 95 and I am quoting directly: "In a criminal case, if the offender is not prosecuted and brought to the court within the following specified period of time as from the date of the commission of the offense, the prosecution shall be precluded by prescription." So it is very similar to a statute of limitations but I would urge the viewer, especially those who are legally trained, Statute of Limitations is something that runs out; that is how I look at it. In a sense the Prescription is somewhat similar to a stopple. It is legally stopping something from happening. It is not something sort of petered out. I almost look at it as an affirmative act. Another thing to keep in mind is I am an American attorney. I am not a Thai attorney. I am not a licensed Thai attorney in Thailand. I am simply providing this video for informational purposes to provide some context for people to understand. I have reviewed this with Thai Attorneys here in our office and gotten their insights with respect to this.  As I said, the way I sort of compare it to the common law tradition is, a Statute of Limitations runs out. Prescription is effective as of a certain time. I know that is a semantic difference, but in my mind it makes all the difference in the world, but that is just me I guess. So “the prosecution shall be precluded by prescription." 

Then here are the different time periods. "20 years in case of offense punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment of 20 years; 15 years in case of offenses punishable with imprisonment of over 7 years but not up to 20 years. 10 years in case of offenses punishable with imprisonment of over 1 year up to 7 years, 5 years in case of offences punishable with imprisonment of over 1 month up to 1 year, 1 year in the case of offenses punishable with imprisonment of 1 month downward or other punishment." So as you can see 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. If a prosecution is not brought in person, is not brought to the court, prescription will preclude that person being prosecuted after that time has elapsed. Quoting further: "If the offender has been prosecuted and brought to the court but the offender escapes or is insane and the court gives order suspending the trial till the specified period has expired reckoning from the date of escape or the date of giving order suspending the trial, it shall be deemed that prosecution be likewise precluded by prescription. Again if somebody is in the middle of a trial and they disappear for whatever reason or are deemed incompetent or insane and the trial is suspended, then the prescription will kick in, the way I read it, based on the number of years that goes by from that point until that time has elapsed.

So an interesting, slight difference with respect to prescription vs. statute of limitations but I think conceptually those who come from a western context I am hoping this has provided at least some insight into how the overall concept works here in the Kingdom of Thailand.