Arbitration in Thailand 2015;
the Thai Arbitration Institute

With the regional economic integration, Thailand is poised to grow as a place for investment and business within South-East Asia. An understanding of the dispute resolution landscape is essential for businesses looking to operate in the jurisdiction. Judge Sorawit Limparangsri of the Office of JudiciarySamuel Seow and Paul Tan of Rajah & Tann Asia analyse arbitration procedure and practice under the laws of Thailand and the rules of the national arbitral institution, the Thai Arbitration Institute. 


It is possible to conceive conflict as not necessarily a wasteful outbreak of incompatibilities, but a normal process by which socially valuable differences register themselves for the enrichment of all concerned.” – M.P Follett

While the intense diversity of Asian cultures leads to great difficulty in proclaiming a common thread, certain societies have long been associated with a predilection for conciliation over conflict. Traditionally, such societies are said to view adversarial dispute resolution forums with “great mistrust”, extending so far as to view the parties’ inability to prevent disputes occurring as a “moral wrongdoing” deserving of condemnation.[2] Symptomatic of these attitudes, parties often neglect to provided for any method for the formal adjudication of disputes.

In line with increased trade flows in and out of the region,[3] perspectives toward conflict resolution have gradually evolved. Increasingly, parties are desensitised to the existence of (some) commercial conflict, recognising the “normality of disputes” even in the healthiest of business relationships.[4] Parties not only foreshadow the occurrence of disputes, but also demand the implementation of efficient, effective and highly sophisticated dispute resolution mechanisms in anticipation of their occurrence.

To this end, over 70% of multinational corporations now integrate commercial arbitration as part of their transnational dispute resolution strategies, in what has been described as Asia’s entrance into a ‘golden age of arbitration’.[5] Governments in the region have raced to develop legal and physical infrastructure facilitative of arbitration – the Asia-Pacific now represents the highest concentration of Model Law jurisdictions across the world.[6] Arguably, in the transnational business environment of today, an understanding of prevailing arbitral laws, procedure and culture is crucial to be able to negotiate cross-jurisdictional transactions effectively.

Within the Asia-Pacific, the impending commencement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community 2015 (“AEC 2015”) is expected to create a consolidated economic bloc with a combined Gross Domestic Product of USD2.4 trillion – which would rank as the 7th largest economy in the world today.[7] While teething issues are expected, Thailand, with its export-oriented economy and longstanding liveability factors is poised to reap a host of benefits from such economic integration.[8] Undoubtedly, Thailand would be of significant interest to multinational companies seeking a corporate base for the marshalling of Southeast Asia-wide operations. In the evaluation of the opportunities that abound, investors should be savvy of Thailand’s commercial and legal environment. By examining recent arbitration developments, the legislative environment, and the rules of the national arbitral institution, the authors aim to contribute to an appreciation of Thailand’s unique dispute resolution landscape.


Thailand is a civil law jurisdiction with a modern set of legal codes. However, unlike pure civil law jurisdictions, litigation practice and Thai laws have been influenced by common law traditions.[9] The legal infrastructure of Thailand is broadly consistent with the international norms of arbitration, with some notable exceptions. This chapter reviews the legislative framework for arbitration, with regard to (a) the arbitration agreement; (b) issues of jurisdiction; (c) arbitral institutions; (d) arbitrators; (e) arbitral awards; and (f) the practice of foreign lawyers.

Thailand is one of the first contracting Asian states to the New York Convention, having been a signatory since 1959. Additionally, Thailand was party to the predecessors of the New York Convention, the Geneva Protocol 1923 and the Geneva Convention 1927. Despite being an early party to multiple international arbitration conventions and a rich tradition of conciliation-based “community arbitration”,[10] commercial arbitration proceedings in Thailand bore an uncertain legal status prior to 1987.[11] It is debatable whether the waiver of curial rights inherent in an arbitration agreement would have been legally recognised by the Thai courts at such time.[12]

The Arbitration Act B.E. 2530 (1987) (the “old Act”) was therefore novel in granting explicit legal status to arbitration agreements, proceedings and awards under Thai law, as the first legislative act dedicated to the governing of arbitration proceedings. The old Act navigated disputants through the arbitral process while affording official legal recognition of arbitral awards, in adherence with Thailand’s obligations under the New York Convention.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (the “Model Law”) seeks to guide legislatures in the enactment of domestic arbitration laws in line with global best practices. As afore-mentioned, the Model Law’s adoption has been especially popular within the Asia-Pacific region.[13] Thailand is a Model Law jurisdiction; in 2002, the old Act was amended, with the new Arbitration Act B.E 2545[14] (the “Arbitration Act”) incorporating the Model Law.

Arbitration Agreement

Under Thai law, only a written agreement may constitute a valid arbitration agreement.[15] It is explicitly provided that such a written agreement may be made on letters, facsimiles, telegrams, telex and electronic mails with a signature.[16] The Arbitration Act guarantees the ability of a valid arbitration agreement to exclude the right to litigation for the parties.[17] Should litigation have commenced on disputes governed by an arbitration agreement, it is legislatively provided that the court shall issue an “order striking [out] the case” where it is satisfied after a preliminary inquiry that the arbitration agreement is not “void, unenforceable or impossible to perform”.[18]

Rule 5 of the Thai Arbitration Institute Rules recommends the following as a “Model Arbitration Clause”:

Any dispute, controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this contract or the breach, termination or invalidity thereof, shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the Thai Arbitration Institute, Office of the Judiciary applicable at the time of submission of the dispute to arbitration and the conduct of the arbitration thereof shall be under the auspices of the Thai Arbitration Institute.”

The ability of an arbitral tribunal to adjudicate on the principal agreement’s “termination or invalidity” emphasises the severability of the arbitration agreement, consistent with the norms of arbitration practice.

Issues of Jurisdiction

The parameters of objective arbitrability under Thai law is derived from the statutory definition of an arbitration agreement,[19] which broadly indicates that disputes concerning ‘a defined legal relationship, whether contractual or not[20] may proceed for resolution via arbitration. This wide-ranging definition of arbitrability is supplemented by s 40(2)(a)-(b) Arbitration Act which provides that awards dealing with disputes ‘not capable of settlement by arbitration under the law’ or ‘contrary to public policy’ may be set aside by a Thai court upon application by a party.[21]

As provided by Article 16 of the Model Law, the ‘competence-competence rule’ allows an arbitral tribunal to determine its own jurisdiction. Section 24 Arbitration Act incorporates competence-competence into Thai arbitration practice, investing the tribunal with the power ‘to rule on its own jurisdiction’,[22] including the ‘validity of the appointment of the arbitral tribunal’.[23] Parties contesting the jurisdiction of a tribunal may file its objections with a competent court within 30 days of receiving the tribunal’s ruling on jurisdiction.[24]

Thai Arbitration Institute

The Thai Arbitration Institute was established in 1990 and is said to have played a role in the majority of significant arbitrations in Thailand, including large investor-state arbitration claims against the Thai government. The Thai Arbitration Institute sits within the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, as a branch of the Office of the Judiciary. Pursuant to the Judicial Administration of the Courts of Justice Act B.E. 2543, the Office of the Judiciary is empowered to discharge the duties of the Courts of Justice. In respecting the separate arms of government, the Office of the Judiciary is designated as an “official organization” independent from the Thai executive branch.

The Thai Arbitration Institute maintains the Arbitration Rules of the Thai Arbitration Institute (“TAI Rules”), which is supplemented by the Thai Arbitration Institute’s Code of Ethics for Arbitrators. The TAI Rules generally follow the norms of international arbitration practice; it is substantively modelled off the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.[25] Further, the Thai Arbitration Institute is capable of administering and providing secretariat services to arbitrations conducted under other arbitral rules.[26]

The Thai Arbitration Institute is funded by the government and provides its administrative services free of charge for parties. Parties only have to pay for expenses incurred, including arbitrator costs. Its main office situated in Bangkok boasts state-of-the-art video technology, integrated within modern facilities.[27] The table below illustrates the Thai Arbitration Institute’s increasing caseload since its inception:-[28]


New cases

Cases resolved

Cases pending at end of year

Amount claimed in new cases (Baht)
1990 1 1 12,465,991
1991 7 3 5 55,109,041
1992 10 7 8 1,056,136,304
1993 10 12 6 1,067151,723
1994 13 7 12 6,479,387,210
1995 17 13 16 204,210,799
1996 20 22 14 1,200,511,319
1997 48 18 44 2,783744,858
1998 80 46 78 11,314,793,665
1999 109 85 102 6,900,515,945
2000 64 75 91 38,456,196,870
2001 46 49 88 11,893,101,982
2002 49 45 92 22,627,766,527
2003 72 54 110 5,386,931,850
2004 127 69 168 133,140,758,810
2005 136 84 220 74,691,706,043
2006 126 101 245 8,053,099,863
2007 148 95 298 8,567,876,832
2008 134 99 333 80,682,479,070
2009 122 111 344 30,291,920,555
2010 124 136 332 51,412,113,367
2011 119 120 331 110,802,862,407
2012 154 133 352 9,593,473,432
2013 119 113 358 30,214,905,531
2014 109 130 337 33,970,383,119


The escalation in new claims over the years of 1997 and 1998 coincides with the Asian Financial Crisis. The climate of business uncertainty led to a proliferation of breached commercial obligations, in turn resulting in a sharp increase in disputes requiring formal judicial adjudication.[29] The unprecedented rate of litigation is said to have almost ‘destroyed the floodgate’ of litigation,[30] leading to protracted delays in accessing the courts.

This predicament led to the government’s increased recognition of the value of Alternate Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) methods.[31] ADR awareness programs were funded by the Office of Judiciary and conducted by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office across the country.[32] By all reported accounts, this led to an increased domestic appreciation and usage of ADR methods.[33] Similar campaigns were held, primarily through foreign chambers of commerce, to encourage the international business community to partake of the benefits of local ADR platforms and facilities, such as that of the Thai Arbitration Institute.

The Thai Arbitration Institute maintains a panel of arbitrators, which boasts senior lawyers and industry experts of various nationalities, across a wide range of fields and expertise, including construction, telecommunication and energy. The official panel list, which contains the credentials of each panel member, is available upon request from the Thai Arbitration Institute and is available in both Thai and English.


Section 19 Paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act provides the fundamental duties of an arbitrator. The arbitrator is to be impartial and independent in discharging his/her duties. Further, the arbitrator must possess the qualifications as prescribed by the parties or by the relevant arbitral institute. Paragraph 2 states that an arbitrator is under a continuous obligation to disclose interests that potentially conflict with the discharge of the arbitrator’s duties. These provisions of the Arbitration Act are mirrored in the TAI Rules.

Breach of these provisions may result in removal from office upon a successful challenge by a party.[34] Pursuant to Rule 18(2) of the TAI Rules, should the tribunal rule against the challenge, the party disputing the arbitrator’s appointment may submit an application to the Thai courts. Under the Arbitration Act, it should be noted that a party is precluded from contesting the appointment of an arbitrator where that party “participated” in the appointment of the arbitrator and where that party was aware of the grounds of the prospective challenge at the time of the appointment.[35]

Arbitrators are excluded from civil liability in relation to any act performed in the course of their duty as an arbitrator except where it is performed wilfully or with gross negligence causing damage to either party.[36] Additionally, it should be noted the “wrongful demanding, accepting or agreeing to accept an asset or any other benefit” for doing or omitting to do any duty is a criminal offence.[37] The arbitrator may be liable for up to ten years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand baht or both.[38] These provisions relating to an arbitrator’s potential criminal and civil liability have not been tested before the Thai courts.

Arbitral Awards

(i)           Challenging of Awards

Section 40 of the Arbitration Act governs the procedure of challenging arbitral awards. Upon receipt of the final award by the tribunal, parties have up to ninety days to file a motion to the Thai courts for the setting aside of the award. Consistent with the New York Convention, highly circumscribed grounds for challenging and setting aside an award are provided by section 40(1)-(2) of the Arbitration Act:-[39]

“(1)    [Where] the party filing the motion can furnish proof that:

A party to the arbitration agreement was under some incapacity under the law applicable to that party;

The arbitration agreement is not binding under the law agreed to by the parties, or failing any indication thereon, under the law of Thailand;

The party making the application was not given proper advance notice of the appointment of the arbitral tribunal or of the arbitral tribunal or of the arbitral proceedings or was otherwise unable to defend the case in the arbitral proceedings;

The award deals with a dispute not within the scope of the arbitration agreement or contains a decision on matter beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement […]

The composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral proceedings was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties or, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, in accordance with this Act.

(2)       [Or] where the court finds that:

(a) The award deals with a dispute not capable of settlement by arbitration under the law; or

(b) The recognition or enforcement of the award would be contrary to public policy.

(ii)       Enforcement of Awards

Chapter 7 (sections 41-45) of the Arbitration Act governs the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards “irrespective of the country in which it was made”.[40] In mirroring Article 35 of the Model Law, the Arbitration Act provides that all arbitral awards (foreign and local) would be recognised as binding on the parties and capable of being enforced upon petition to a competent court.[41]

In reflection of Article V of the New York Convention, a competent Thai court may refuse enforcement of foreign and local arbitral awards on any one of the following six grounds, as provided by Section 43 of the Arbitration Act:-

(1)     Where a party to the arbitration agreement was under some incapacity under the law applicable to that party;

(2)      Where the arbitration agreement is not binding under the law agreed to by the parties, or failing any indication thereon, under the law of the country where the arbitral award was made;

Where the party making the application was not given proper advance notice of the arbitration proceeding or was otherwise unable to defend its case;

Where the award deals with a dispute outside the scope of the arbitration agreementor contains a decision on matter beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement;

Where the composition of the tribunal or the arbitral proceedings was not in accordance with the arbitration agreement or the lawor, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the law of the country where the arbitral award was made;

Where the arbitral award is not binding or has been set aside by a competent court at the seat of arbitration.”

The party seeking enforcement of the award is to file an application to the court within three years from the date of the award’s issue, with original or certified copies of the award and the arbitration agreement.[42] Should the award be rendered in a language other than Thai, an official translation by a suitably authorised person would also be required, as provided in Section 42(3) Arbitration Act.

Thailand has not made any “reciprocity reservation” or indeed any reservations in its ascension to the New York Convention.[43] As such, it has been argued that non-New York Convention awards would in principle be able to be enforced in Thailand via the New York Convention. However, the position remains uncertain, particularly as a result of Section 41 Paragraph 2 Arbitration Act, which purports to limit enforceable foreign awards to awards made in countries that are subject to “an international convention, treaty, or agreement to which Thailand is to be bound”.[44]

(iii)      Recent cases and some developments

In line with global trends, the Thai courts have witnessed a surge in its arbitration-related caseload. In recent years, the Thai courts have generally adhered to the spirit of the New York Convention relating to the enforcement of awards. Over the years of 2013-2014, the Thai courts were faced with ten enforcement applications over foreign and local arbitral awards. It is noteworthy that eight of these cases resulted in the orders enforcing the award in question, while two cases were settled in the course of proceedings. Some developments in this regard are discussed below.

In October 2013, the Bangkok Southern Civil Court considered the challenge of a domestic arbitral award rendered by a three-member tribunal constituted under the auspices of the Thai Arbitration Institute. The arbitral tribunal had issued an award in favour of the claimant, in relation to a construction dispute over a failed joint venture. The plaintiff challenged the award on the basis of Section 40(2)(b) of the Arbitration Act, alleging inter alia that the tribunal had had adopted procedures incongruous with Thai civil procedure, and as such, that any enforcement of the ensuing award would be contrary to public policy. The Bangkok Southern Civil Court refused to review the merits of the award and set aside the plaintiff’s application. In doing so, the court emphasised that the tribunal was free to adopt its own procedure, subject only to the principles of natural justice, and was not bound by Thai civil procedure. Arguably, the court’s resistance to an expansionist view of “public policy” is consistent with the norms of commercial arbitral practice.

In Case No. 349/2549, the Supreme Administrative Court of Thailand was called to consider the enforceability of an arbitral award. The case involved an agreement between a government agency and a private entity with regard to concession rights granted to the private entity for the operation of a television station. The concession agreement included a provision that the government would not grant any concessions to any competitors of the private entity. Nevertheless, the government agency subsequently renewed concessions that had been granted to competitors of the private entity, which the private company alleged constituted a breach of the concession agreement. The dispute was submitted to arbitration, with the tribunal eventually finding in favour of the private company. In a challenge to the award, the Supreme Administrative Court held that the relevant obligation (which was inserted by way of an amendment to the original concession agreement) was not authorised by the Thai cabinet, as required by Thai law. Accordingly, the court refused to enforce the award, finding that it would be contrary to public policy under section 40(2) of the Arbitration Act.

In recognition of the varying standards that various courts have adopted in the enforcement process (particularly with regard to the “public policy” exception of the New York Convention),[45] one of the authors of this article has advocated for greater harmonisation of award enforcement standards both within Thailand and across the region. Proposed methods include greater interaction and collaboration between judges, arbitrators and practitioners around the region, specifically intended to facilitate the development of a consistent framework for the enforcement of awards under the New York Convention, based on input from all relevant participants and stakeholders of the arbitration process.[46]

Foreign Arbitration Practitioners

The now-repealed Alien Working Act B.E. 2521 categorically prohibited foreign nationals from providing any form of ‘legal services’ in Thailand. This position was amended in 2000, where an exception was included to the schedule of the Alien Working Act B.E. 2543 (now replaced by the Alien Working Act B.E. 2551). This exception allows foreign nationals to serve as arbitrators in proceedings held within Thailand. It should be noted however, that all foreign arbitrators should still exercise due care in complying with any visa or work permit requirements so as to protect the legitimacy of any arbitration proceeding (and the enforceability of any ensuing award).

Additionally, the amendments to the Alien Working Act (retained in the currently in-force Alien Working Act B.E 2551) grant foreign lawyers the ability to practice as arbitration counsel in Thailand under limited circumstances, namely, (a) where the law governing the dispute is other than Thai law; or (b) where the award will not be enforced in Thailand. In practice, foreign lawyers often serve in a ‘consultant’ role in proceedings; advising Thai lawyers who are empowered to make submissions to the tribunal directly.


Party Autonomy

This chapter examines the arbitration process under the TAI Rules and the Arbitration Act. As provided in articles 18 and 19 of the Model Law, and replicated in section 25 of the Arbitration Act, parties are generally free to agree on the procedure that is to govern the arbitration proceedings, so long as the parties are “treated with equality and …given a full opportunity of presenting their cases in accordance with the circumstances of the dispute”. Should parties fail to agree on procedure, section 25 of the Arbitration Act grants the tribunal the discretion to conduct proceedings in any manner it deems appropriate.

It should be noted that rule 21 of the TAI Rules purports to grant such discretion to the tribunal should the parties fail to stipulate such procedure within the arbitration agreement. However, consistent with the spirit of arbitration, this rule has been interpreted broadly, allowing parties to agree on procedure even after the commencement of the arbitration. Such agreements on procedure are often recorded within the first procedural order or first procedural timetable issued by the tribunal.

Commencement of Arbitration

The commencement of arbitration begins with the claimant’s submission of a statement of claim to the Director of the Thai Arbitration Institute.[47] The statement of claim must contain certain basic “particulars” as provided for in rule 6(1)-(7) of the TAI Rules. The claimant must also ensure that sufficient copies of the statement of claim have been sent to the Thai Arbitration Institute, for eventual dissemination to members of the arbitral tribunal and the relevant counterparties.

Upon the Director’s satisfaction that the statement of claim conforms with the requirements in rule 6(1)-(7) of the TAI Rules, the Thai Arbitration Institute shall, “without delay”, deliver a copy of the statement of claim to the relevant counterparty.[48] Should the statement of claim be found to be defective, the Director is empowered to reject it or return it to the claimant with an order to make any amendments within such period of time and upon such terms as the Director deems fit.[49]


The Arbitration Act does not include any explicit provisions on the issue of confidentiality of proceedings. However, the TAI Rules states that ‘proceedings shall be held in camera’,[50] or in private. In the abundance of caution, parties often also elect to include confidentiality clauses within arbitration agreements. Tribunals often also include provisions for confidentiality in the first procedural order issued.

Arbitrator Appointment

Rules 10-14 of the TAI Rules govern the appointment of arbitrators. For the purpose of a three-person tribunal, the default position under the TAI Rules is that each party would first appoint one arbitrator each. Next, the two party-appointed arbitrators would confer to decide on the third arbitrator to serve as the “chairperson” of the tribunal. Alternatively, the parties can agree to appoint a sole arbitrator.

Where the parties are unable agree on the appointment of the sole arbitrator or where the party-appointed arbitrators cannot agree on the chairperson of the tribunal, the default system under the TAI Rules would operate, subject to any contrary agreement between the parties.

As provided by rule 11 of the TAI Rules the most preferred individual as ranked from a list composed of three names from each disputant and three names by the Thai Arbitration Institute would be appointed. It should be noted that all individuals to be appointed as arbitrators must consent to the TAI Code of Ethics for Arbitrators.

Interim Measures

Deviating from the Model Law, there are no express provisions in either the Arbitration Act or the TAI Rules that grant tribunals the ability to issue interim orders such as injunctions. However, section 16 of the Arbitration Act explicitly grants parties the ability to file applications to a competent court seeking such preliminary orders. It is further provided that the Civil Procedure Code B.E. 2551 applies to such applications mutatis mutandis. In the absence of any provisions relating to the power of tribunals to issues such preliminary orders, section 16 of the Arbitration Act has been interpreted to imply that only preliminary orders issued by the courts would be legally enforceable. While wide-ranging preliminary orders issued by tribunals are regularly adhered to on a consensual basis, such orders cannot be enforced by law.

However, in relation to discovery, it should be noted that the TAI Rules empowers the tribunal to order the parties to submit “any relevant document”.[51] Further, should documents that are required be in the possession of a non-party, an arbitrator or a disputant, with the consent of the majority of the tribunal, may request a competent court to issue a subpoena for the submission of documents.[52] The court would evaluate the circumstances of the case to determine if such an order would be carried out should a court action have been brought before it.[53] Again, the Civil Procedure Code B.E. 2551 applies to such applications mutatis mutandis.


In the absence of any agreement between the parties on evidence-taking, Chapter 4 of the Arbitration Act grants the tribunal the discretion to conduct proceedings as it deems appropriate, subject to Thai law and broad principles of procedural fairness.[54] The tribunal is empowered to decide the admissibility and weight of any evidence.[55] As is the trend in other seats, arbitral proceedings in Thailand have moved towards the exchange of written arguments and witness statements. As a result, it is primarily only the cross-examination of witnesses that are held before the tribunal, reducing costs and time associated with arbitration proceedings.

One unique feature of the TAI Rules is rule 22(2), which provides that the tribunal shall “note down the testimony of the witnesses and read it to the witnesses” so as to collate a “memorandum”. The tribunal may then assign an officer of the Thai Arbitration Institute to convert the testimony in the memorandum into a “transcript of witnesses”.[56]

Arbitral Awards

Arbitral awards must be made within 180 days from the day on which “the last arbitrator was appointed”.[57] This timeline is subject to variation between the parties and the tribunal. Unless otherwise agreed between the parties, any awards ensuing from arbitrations conducted under the TAI Rules must be determined by the majority vote of the tribunal.[58]

The tribunal is to ensure that awards “state clearly the reasons upon which [they are] based”.[59] Within thirty days of receiving the award, parties may request the tribunal to clarify its contents or correct any clerical errors.[60] Within this time frame, parties may also request the tribunal to make an “additional award” should the original award fail to encompass any “material issue”.[61] In this regard, the tribunal may request for the parties to attend further hearings.[62]


Influenced by the Civil Procedure Code, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the tribunal may order an interest of 7.5% on debts.[63] It should be noted that the compounding of interest is not permitted pursuant to the Civil Procedure Code B.E. 2557, except where (a) one year’s interest is in arrears and the borrower agrees that the interest may be compounded; and (b) such agreement is made at or after such arrears have occurred.

An unusual aspect of Thai arbitration is that the Arbitration Act and the TAI Rules preclude the tribunal from “specifying” in its award the parties’ ‘attorney fees and expenses’, subject to any agreement to the contrary between the parties.[64] As such, the default position is that each party to the arbitration is responsible for its own legal fees, regardless of the result of the arbitration. In practice, parties regularly grant such powers of apportioning legal costs to the tribunal, via the arbitration agreement or as recorded within a procedural order at the outset of proceedings.

Pursuant to section 46 of the Arbitration Act, should the tribunal fail to specify in its award any directions on the payment of “fees and expenses incidental to the arbitral proceedings and the remunerations for arbitrator”, parties may make an application to a competent court for further directions.


A coherent legislative framework for arbitration, an increasingly pro-arbitration judiciary, and an independent and credible national arbitral institute provide the necessary infrastructure for the efficient administration of complex commercial arbitration in Thailand. As the centrepiece of AEC 2015, Thailand is poised to take off as a regional centre for international dispute resolution. With the continued support of the government, it is predicted that arbitration will increasingly be seen as not just a viable, but the practical route to resolving complex commercial disputes connected with the jurisdiction.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice. Any views expressed herein are the authors’ own views. The authors are grateful for the guidance of Dr Munin Pongsapan, Director of the International LL.B. Program in Business Law of Thammasat University; and the research assistance of Mr Victor Steinmetz, Ms Pimvipa Kunanusorn and Ms Pundaree Tanapathong.

This article may be cited as follows: Sorawit Limparangsri, Samuel Seow and Paul Tan, “Arbitration in Thailand 2015; the Thai Arbitration Institute”, International Arbitration Asia (25 May 2015) <arbitration-in-thailand-the-thai-arbitration-institute-2015/>.

[2] Yasuhei Taniguchi, “Is there a growing international arbitration culture? – An Observation from Asia” (1996) 8 ICCA Congress Series 31; SF Ali, “Approaching the Global Arbitration Table: Comparing the Advantages of Arbitration as seen by Practitioners in East Asia and The West” (2009) 28 Review of Litigation 791, 803.

[3] Dale W. Jorgenson and Khuong Vu, ‘The Rise of Developing Asia and the New Economic Order’ (2011) 5(33) Journal of Policy Modelling 698.

[4] Jeremy Gormly, “A Change in Dispute Culture: The Civil Dispute Resolution Act 2011” in The Future of Dispute Resolution (2012, LexisNexis).

[5] Chiann Bao, ‘International Arbitration in Asia on the Rise: Cause & Effect’ (2014) 4(1) Arbitration Brief 31; Sundaresh Menon, ‘International Arbitration: The Coming of a New Age for Asia (and Elsewhere)’ (Speech delivered at the opening plenary session International Arbitration Committee, 10 June 2012).

[6] Above n 5, Bao.

[7] See Rajah & Tann Singapore, Client Update, 101 on AEC 2015, February 2015 <>.

[8] Petchanet Pratruangkrai, “AEC integration to boost Thai export growth, study finds”, The Nation (23 August 2014) <–30241568.html>.

[9] Colin Ong, ‘ASEAN Overview’, in James H Carter (eds), The International Arbitration Review (Law Business Research, 5th ed, 2014).

[10] Described to have been existing for centuries; see Anan Chantara-opakorn, ‘On Out-of-Court Arbitration’ (Nitiham Publishing, 1993) 6.

[11] Anan Chantara-opakorn, ‘Arbitration in Thailand’, in Phillip K McConnaughat, Thomas B, Ginsburg (eds), International Commercial Arbitration in Asia (Jurist Publishing, 2002).

[12] Ibid.

[13] Simon Greenberg, Christopher Kee, J Romesh Weeramantry, International Commercial Arbitration (Cambridge Univeristy, 2011) 1, 33.

[14] 2002.

[15] Section 11 paragrah 2 of the Arbitration Act.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Section 14 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Section 11 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act.

[20] Ibid.

[21] These two grounds for refusal of awards are provided by article V(2)(a) of the New York Convention.

[22] Section 24 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Section paragraph 3 of the Arbitration Act.

[25] Sorawit Limpagrangsri and Prachya Yuprasert, ‘Arbitration and Mediation in ASEANl Laws and Practice from a Thai Perspective’ (2010) 5 Thai Arbitration Institute Journal of Arbitration 189.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Thai Arbitration Institute, Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, Office of the Judiciary, Criminal Court Building 5th Floor, Ratchadapisak Road, Bangkok 10900, Tel No: 0-25412298-9 / 0-2512-8501 ext 127-134, Fax No: 0-2512-8434.

[28] Statistics compiled and translated with assistance from the Thai Arbitration Institute. It should be noted that the ‘amount claimed in new cases’ column does not include counterclaims.

[29] Anan Chantara-opakorn, ‘Investment Arbitration: Remarks for Thailand’ (2010) 5 Thai Arbitration Institute Journal of Arbitration 1.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Above n 25.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Rules 15-19 of the TAI Rules governs the challenging of arbitrators.

[35] Section 19 paragraph 3 of the Arbitration Act.

[36] Section 23 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act.

[37] Similar penalties applies to individuals who offer bribes to arbitrators; section 23 of the Arbitration Act.

[38] Section 23 paragraph 3 of the Arbitration Act.

[39] Section 40 of the Arbitration Act is substantively similar to article 34(2) of the Model law and article V of the New York Convention.

[40] Substantively similar to article 35 of the Model Law, which provides no distinction between the enforcing of foreign or domestic.

[41] Section 41 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act.

[42] Section 42 of the Arbitration Act.

[43] Numerous countries in the region have made such a reciprocity reservation under under article I(3) of the New York Convention including Singapore, India, Indonesia, Japan, China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

[44] This is somewhat similar to the Australian position; where Australia did not undertake a “reciprocity reservation” but provides a similar clause to section 41 of the Arbitration Act in its equivalent federal arbitration legislation.

[45] See further, Vanina Sucharitkul and Gregory Travaini, ‘The Impounded Boeing 737’ (2013) 8 Young Arbitration Review 7.

[46] Sorawit Limparagsri, Improving on Enforcement of International Commercial Arbitral Awards in ASEAN: A Thai Perspective, 10th General Assembly of the ASEAN LAW Association <>.

[47] Rule 6 of the TAI Rules.

[48] Rule 7 of the TAI Rules.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Rule 22(3) of the TAI Rules.

[51] Rule 22(1) of the TAI Rules.

[52] Section 33 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act.

[53] Section 33 Paragraph 2 of the Arbitration Act.

[54] “… [T]he parties shall be treated with equality and shall be given an opportunity of presenting their cases in accordance with the circumstances of the dispute”; section 25 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act.

[55] Section 25 paragraph 2 of the Arbitration Act.

[56] Rule 22(2) of the TAI Rules.

[57] Rule 27 of the TAI Rules.

[58] Rule 28 of the TAI Rules. It should be noted that section 35 of the Arbitration Act provides that the chairperson of the tribunal would “solely issue an award, an order or a ruling” should the tribunal fail to reach a majority decision. This is a notable deviation from the Model Law.

[59] Rule 30 TAI Rules.

[60] Rules 31 and 32 of the TAI Rules.

[61] Rule 33 of the TAI Rules.

[62] Ibid.

[63] For proceedings under Thai law.

[64] Section 46 paragraph 1 of the Arbitration Act; rule 36 of the TAI Rules.


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Thai Arbitration Institute
Office of the Judiciary, Thailand

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Senior Legal Executive
Rajah & Tann Asia

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Rajah & Tann Asia

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