A new directive in Thailand will allow court pleadings and documents to be filed electronically. The Directive of the President of the Supreme Court on Submitting, Sending, and Receiving Pleadings and Documents via the Electronic Filing System came into effect on May 4, 2017.
The electronic filing system allows litigants to send and receive pleadings, notices, court orders, summonses, documents, and other types of warrants. In addition, required court fees and trial expenses may now be paid online via credit or debit card, bank transfer, or other methods specified in the Announcement of the Office of the Judiciary. The anticipated benefits of electronic filing include increased efficiency, productivity, and reduction of errors.
At the moment, the electronic system allows disputes over purchases, sales, leases, mortgages, pledges, contract guarantees, loan contracts, hire-purchases, and credit cards, but it may be extended to other types of disputes in the future. Currently, only three courts offer this service: (1) The Civil Court (Bangkok); (2) The Thon Buri Civil Court; and (3) The South Bangkok Civil Court. Per the directive, future courts that allow electronic filing will make public announcements.
In addition, the Courts of Justice are also currently piloting an electronic hearing recording system. This system involves the filming of court proceedings and keeping them on record in digital format for future reference. The courts believe this system will reduce the number of post-hearing disputes between parties regarding the accuracy of statements made during proceedings. The system is currently awaiting approval by the judicial committee of the Courts of Justice, after which it will be ready for expansion to at least 252 courts nationwide.
The adoption of new technology by the Thai judiciary is encouraging and a welcome gesture to modernize the court system. However, very few new system adoptions are flawless, and it is inevitable that the initiative will take some time to fully implement and optimize.