Phuket Tourist Court to open late this month

PHUKET: The Phuket Tourist Court will open late this month, while another five such courts will open across the country before year’s end, Court of Justice spokesman Sitthisak Wanachakij has announced.

The specialized court, set up to expedite cases involving foreign holiday-makers – about 20 million tourists visit Thailand every year – will encourage negotiations between parties and will video technology to hear witness testimonies from other provinces, Mr Sitthisak said.

The Phuket Tourist Court will be one of seven such courts established in major tourist destinations in the country.

On September 5, The Pattaya Tourist Court opened; other tourist courts are to be in Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Bangkok. One of the two tourist courts in Bankok will be in Dusit District, covering Wat Phra Kaew and Khao San Road areas. The other will be in Pathumwan District, covering Siam Square, Patpong and Silom.

The seven courts were all to initially open on September 5, but due to lack of preparedness, only the tourist court in Pattaya has been launched so far, Mr Sitthisak said.

The criteria for judge selection stresses negotiation and language skills. The Tourism and Sports Ministry will help improve manpower by sending judges to study tourist law in France (story here), Mr Sitthisak said.

Mr Sitthisak explained that each tourist court, formally called the “Tourist Protections Section” under the local regional Administrative Court, required a budget of only 1.5 million baht a year, in addition to personnel and facility renovation costs.

The Tourist Protections Section would be upgraded to a “division” in time for the upcoming formalization of the Asean Economic Community, Mr Sitthisak said.

The news that Phuket’s Tourist Court will open within the coming weeks follows the tourist court in Pattaya recently resolving its first case, which involved a speedboat accident that killed two Chinese tourists on August 28.

Provincial Pattaya Court Chief Judge Apichat Thepnoo said the court called in the speedboat owner and the insurance company to attend a dispute settlement procedure along with the plaintiffs, who spoke through a translator.

The deceased tourists’ families initially had asked for a total of 16mn baht in compensation.

At the second round of talks on September 6, both parties agreed that the insurance company would pay 1.3mn baht to each victim’s family, while the speedboat owner would pay 1mn baht to each victim’s family, he said.

The families accepted the compensation and said they would not sue for further compensation.

However, the criminal charges related to the case are to be heard separately from the compensation claim, and will proceed according to usual criminal trial procedure.

The Pattaya tourist court operates from 8:30am to 8:30pm on weekdays, and 8:30am to 4:30pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Tourist courts in other areas, including Phuket, might operate on different days and times depending on each area’s number of tourist-related cases, Mr Sitthisak said.

— The Nation

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