Thai Mediation Center
The Thai Mediation Center (TMC) has been established by the Office of the Judiciary of Thailand in 2000. TMC is established to promote mediation practice in Thailand, strengthen awareness of amicable conflict resolution through mediation, develop and enhance mediators’ professional skills, and accredit mediators. TMC has worked closely with the courts of justice of Thailand to develop a system to divert cases into mediation, and built legal infrastructure to accommodate such system, such as the rules and regulations governing the mediation. TMC has organized several activities with the courts to promote mediation, notably the annual “Let’s Mediate” program, a settlement month project that takes place at almost every courts of justice in Thailand during July and August each year.
Realizing the potential of mediation as an effective tool to build peace and harmony in society, TMC has coordinated with various organizations in Thailand whose work involves or relates to alternative dispute resolution to help each other in promoting ADR in Thailand, and develop the use of mediation at various levels. TMC has also carried out the “Volunteer Community Mediator” program to enhance the local dispute resolution mechanism at the community level for many years. Furthermore, TMC has organized a training program for personnel in academic institutions to promote the use of “Peer Mediation” and instill the concept of amicable dispute resolution in the curricula of the institutions.
Moreover, to strengthen the foundation for mediation practice in Thailand, TMC has compiled the knowledge base on mediation in Thailand so that those who are interested in mediation can have a ready resource to consult with. Such knowledge base has been developed through academic and technical cooperation with various institutions within and outside Thailand, and TMC’s internal research. In a continuous endeavor to disseminate knowledge on mediation, TMC has published several books in Thai that covers various topics such as (1) Conflict Management, (2) Techniques, Psychology and Communication for Mediators (3) Restorative Mediation in Criminal Cases (4) Religions and Mediation (5) Laws and Legal Materials on Mediation (6) Civil and Commercial Laws for Mediators and (7) Criminal Laws for Mediators. To update the recent development in mediation practice, TMC has published, on a quarterly basis, a magazine called “ADR Today” which has been disseminated to mediators, courts, academic institutions and various sectors in Thailand.
TMC-accredited mediators have worked in various regions in Thailand. The current number of the mediators is more than 2,000 mediators. These trained mediators come from various occupational and professional backgrounds, including former judges, legal professionals, accountants, bankers, retired civil servants, business owners and recognized persons in the community.
During the past three years, many more courts have adopted mediation programs. Moreover, the number of TMC-accredited mediators has increased in conjunction with the demand from the courts. Therefore, these two factors have resulted in the increasing number of cases that have been referred to mediation under TMC-sponsored mediation programs. In the fiscal year of 2007, the number of cases mediated in these programs was 94,102 cases. In the fiscal year of 2008, the number has increased to 126,330 cases. In the fiscal year of 2009 (calculated from October 1, 2008 – July 31, 2009), the number is 80,828 cases. In those mediated cases, the rate of success has been in the range of 80 – 85%.
Terms of Mediation
At the beginning of a mediation session, parties must agree on the terms of the mediation which include inter alia the preservation of the confidential nature of the mediation.
In the court-annexed mediation, according to the Rules of the President of the Supreme Court enacted under the Civil Procedure Code, the parties to a mediation may not invoke facts that arise during the mediation, including proposals proposed during the mediation, an invitation or the willingness to engage in mediation proceedings or to accept a proposal for settlement etc, as their evidence in the court proceedings. Parties may not request the court to issue subpoena to force another party, the mediators or any third party to disclose any facts that arise during mediation.
Legal System of Thailand
Thailand is a civil law country. The primary sources of laws, therefore, are the codified laws, including the Civil and Commercial Code, the Penal Code, the Civil Procedure Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.
Thailand has three different court systems, i.e., the Court of Justice, the Constitutional Court and the Administrative Court. The Court of Justice is the court with general jurisdiction covering civil and criminal matters, and any other cases not falling under the jurisdiction of other courts. Currently, mediation is available only in cases under the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice.
Attitude towards Mediation
Mediation and other means for amicable dispute resolution have always been a part of Thai culture and society. Such culture can be found in almost every region in Thailand. The traditional mediation “centers” in history were temples and residence of the village elders. Mediation has persisted through ages until the modern days.
In this modern day, mediation has been systemized and incorporated into the existing system for the administration of justice. The laws try to encourage the parties to use mediation wherever it is appropriate to do so. The courts of justice have also taken several initiatives in installing the “mediation” culture into the court’s own proceedings. This systematic adoption of mediation can be observed by various activities to promote mediation, and the sheer number of cases that have been referred to mediation each year.
The interest in mediation has increased by leaps and bounds during the recent years. Many organizations in both public and private sector embrace mediation and other means of amicable dispute resolution mechanism wherever possible.