After the ceremony, attended by senior figures from the Tourism Ministry, the Ministry of Justice and Phuket Province, Governor Maitree Intusut said, “I am delighted to have the [tourist] court officially opened. It will bring justice for tourists.”
Chief Justice of Phuket Parinya Chaowalittawin explained, “In fact, we have always handled such cases, but this section will fast-track cases involving tourists. The emphasis will be on arbitration.”
He added that in the past three years the Phuket courts have heard 1,500 cases involving tourists – 1,000 of them consumer cases involving tourists being exploited and about 500 in which tourists were victims of crime.
Tourists who wish to take a case to the Tourist Court should go, at any time of day or night, to the Tourist Assistance Centre (TAC) at the airport, or during office hours to the temporary TAC office at Surakul Stadium in Phuket Town. Those in need of help may also call 076 327 100.
“We will try to finish each case within 24 hours,” Judge Parinya said.
“If a case is reported at night, then there will be a court hearing in the morning. If the case cannot be completed that day, we will continue to hear witness testimony the next day until it is completed.
“If a tourist has to fly back home before the case is completed, we will hear all of his or her testimony and then a representative can continue the case on his or her behalf.”
He stressed that the Tourist Court will deal only with cases in which the tourist is the victim.
“If it is the tourist who is accused of committing the crime then the case will go through the conventional court procedure.” This can take months or even years.
Asked where the next Tourist Court will open, he said he was not sure. “But if it’s in the South it should be in either Krabi or Koh Samui.”