Summons and Warrants in Thailand

For an individual who have not gain exposure to the procedures of the Thai court or any court on that matter will surely have a difficulty in distinguishing a Summons from that of a Warrant as both of them would require the recipient of such to appear upon the prudence of the authorities. But in real, factual and legal terms, a summons is largely different from that of a warrant in the sense that:


A summon cannot be served verbally. It should be served in writing with the pertinent facts fully provided and written. Such facts as the following:

  1. The place where the summons is issued.
  2. The issuance date of the said document.
  3. The name of the locality and place of residence of the person who is subject for a summons.
  4. The reason why the person is required to appear before the body or investigator.
  5. The time, date and place where the recipient of such summons is tasked to appear.
  6. and the signature and seal of the summon’s issuing court.

Although the issuing court has the discretion on the time and date of the recipient’s appearance schedule but it should also consider the distance between the issuing court with his place of origin.

Moreover, other than the intended recipient of the summons, only the spouse, a relative or a guardian of the said person can ever receive it for him.

In case that the intended recipient of the summons’ residence is outside from place where the issuing party is located then the summons can be sent over to the issuing party’s equal body of the said place i.e. police official of the issuing party to the recipient’s place of residence’s police official.


An individual who has been arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest can only be released if the issuing court will also issue a warrant of release. Yet, issuing the said warrant must fall within the rules and procedures set by the Thailand Supreme Court’s President.

The aggrieved party who wishes a court to issue a warrant of arrest, search warrant or detention warrant against the accused must first convince the court that there is the presence of a valid reason to issue such warrant. Such request must be done under oath or if taken that the aggrieved party is not able to take the oath and issue the request personally can still request for a warrant to be issued through other channels or methods such as through telephone, fax, electronic media or other technological information but the same are also subject to the rules and regulations set by the President of the Supreme Court.

The different types of warrants should be issued in writing and should also have the correct and complete data on:

  1. The locality where the warrant is issued.
  2. The complete date which includes the day, month and year.
  3. The reason that affected the release of the warrant.
  4. The different types of warrants:
    1. Arrest Warrant – The name or the overall appearance of the individual who is the subject of the arrest warrant must be in good detail.
    2. Detention Warrant, Imprisonment Warrant or Release Warrant - The name of the individual who is the subject of these kinds of warrants should also be in detail.
    3. Search Warrant – The information with regards to the searching officer, the owner of the residence, the name and description, the place of residence as well as the time and date must also be clearly defined.


Although the terms, Warrants and Summons, are widely used in other countries and are hugely familiar to expatriates in Thailand, the fact is that how these are issued, served and the requirements that needed herewith for their issuance may have a slight or even large deviation to what is already known to them.

Even with the familiarity of the terms, the court processes that are utilized in Thailand may be confusing for any foreigner therefore for a better understanding of the tackled subject, the expat-individual must adhere to the advice to seek clarification on this matter with a reputable and experienced attorney at law.


Thailand Judicial Courts

Thailand has a fully functional but multileveled Judicial Court System. Citizens of United Kingdom and more than 20 other countries which utilize the Westminster Type may find it as somewhat familiar but the system currently utilized by Thailand should not in any way be misconstrued to function on the same manner as the British system.

Furthermore, the decisions in the Thai system only come from the wisdom of the Judges or the Justices as it does not operate with the assistance of a panel of jury like the United States.

The Thai judicial system is divided into three levels namely:

  1. The Supreme Court – it is the highest court in the land in which all of its decisions are final and executory. It hears appeals or contests against the decision of the Courts of Appeal, the Regional Courts of Appeal or the Courts of First Instance, which their descriptions will be discussed later on this article.

    The Supreme Court of Thailand is a separate entity therefore functions separately from: the Constitutional Court which decides whether a particular law, rule or regulation is constitutional or not; the Administrative Court which hears disputes against a private individual or entity against a government entity or disputes between a government entity against another government entity; or the Military Court which hears cases against a military personnel who committed a crime against other criminal laws or the military law.

    The Supreme Court is presided over by the President and it has separate specialized divisions. It is also the Supreme Court President who assigns the Chief Justice or Presiding Justice of each division. The different Supreme Court Divisions are as follows:

    1. Juvenile and Family
    2. Labour Division
    3. Tax
    4. Intellectual Property and International Trade
    5. Bankruptcy
    6. Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions
    7. Commercial
    8. Administrative
  2. The Courts of Appeal – The Courts of Appeal is divided into two divisions but both of which handles appeals on the decisions or orders of the lower courts whereas:

    1. The Court of Appeal – this division hears appeals on the decisions or order of both the Criminal and Civil Courts.
    2. The Regional Courts of Appeal (1-9) – these courts hears appeals on the decisions or order of the other Courts of First Instance.

    With this, the Courts of Appeal (both the Court of Appeal and the Regional Courts of Appeal) are mandated to affirm, correct, reverse or dismiss the decisions, to exacting of a death penalty or life imprisonment that are rendered unto the respondent by the Courts of First Instance and also to resolve cases that other laws have mandated them to.

    Even if the decisions or orders that are subject to appeals were handed by the Regional Courts of First Instance, the appeals of these will still take place in Bangkok as the Regional Courts of Appeal are located in the capital with the exception of Court of Appeal Region 2 which is located in the Rayong Province.

  3. The Courts of First Instance – This lowest level of the three tier system of the Thai judiciary is composed of:

    1. Courts in the Capital of Bangkok
      • The Civil Court
      • The Bangkok South Civil Court
      • The Thon Buri Civil Court
      • The Criminal Court
      • The Bangkok South Criminal Court
      • The Thon Buri Criminal Court
      • The Min Buri Provincial Court
      • Seven (7) Kwaeng Courts
    2. Courts in the Provinces
      • Seventy Nine (79) Provincial Courts
      • Twenty Kwaeng Courts
      • A branch of other Kwaeng Courts
    3. Juvenile and Family Courts
      • The Central Juvenile and Family Court
      • Nine (9) Juvenile and Family Courts in Bangkok
      • Twenty Four (24) Juvenile and Family Section in Provincial Courts
    4. Specialized Courts
      • The Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court
      • The Central Labour Court
      • The Central Tax Court
      • The Central Bankruptcy Court

    General courts are ordinary courts that decide and adjudicate Civil and Criminal cases. The Civil Courts, Criminal Courts, Provincial Courts and the Kwaeng Courts of Bangkok and that of the Provincial Courts also have distinctions.


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