Judges honor father of Thai justice system

Friday, 23 August 2013 From Issue Vol. XXI No. 34 By  Warunya Thongrod

Chief Justice Apichart Thepnu saluted the father of the Thai justice system in this year’s Rapee Day ceremony in Pattaya.

At the Aug. 7 ceremony at Pattaya Provincial Court, Judge Apichart lit candles and incense in honor of the three gems. 9 Buddhist monks from Chaimongkol Temple chanted before the Chief Justice presented a speech on Rapee and the Thai version of a justice system.

In addition, the day also featured exhibits on Thai law and royal missions; a mock trial and a quiz on laws attended by students, and a sports competition to forge bonds between Pattaya courthouse workers and the judges.

Chief Justice Apichart Thepnu (center) leads judges, lawyers and other officials to pay respects to the Father of Thai Law, Prince Rapee Pattanasak on Rapee Day.Chief Justice Apichart Thepnu (center) leads judges, lawyers and other officials to pay respects to the Father of Thai Law, Prince Rapee Pattanasak on Rapee Day.

Rapee Day is named after the father of the Thai courts, Prince Rapee Pattanasak. The 14th son of King Chulalongkorn, he founded the country’s first law school and promoted the systemization of land-title deeds and ownership. The holiday commemorates the day he died.

Rapee was born Oct. 21, 1874 and studied law at Christchurch College at Oxford University. Upon returning to Thailand he became minister of justice at the age of 22, a position he held for 14 years. After founding the law school in 1897 he drew up the first syllabus and taught the students himself.

In 1911, King Rama VI appointed Rapee agriculture minister. In addition to standardizing land ownership, he created the Royal Irrigation Department.

The prince fell ill in 1920 and resigned to move to Paris. He died Aug. 7 the same year. His statue was constructed in front of the Ministry of Justice and each year law practitioners and the general public who now live under the law he once wrote pay tribute to him.

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