Over 100 PCEC members packed into the meetings zone of the Holiday Inn, Pattaya, to hear attorney at law Dr Jessataporn Bunnag (Chang) and his colleague Mr Chatchai Seelasophano talk on “Thai Law and You”. They are both based at the V2B international law office located adjacent to the immigration bureau in Jomtien.
They began by outlining the services of the company which, apart from court matters, cover notarial and translation, visas for foreigners here and for Thais going abroad, passport renewal for some countries and general liaison with embassies and consulates. Dr Bunnag also runs two language academies, a driving school and the registration center for nationals of neighboring countries working in Thailand.
Mr Chatchai then described the differences between civil and criminal law and emphasized the importance of obtaining police reports as quickly as possible. Some areas of Thai law, for example slander and libel, can be criminal as well as civil. He described how foreigners on bail for criminal offences must not ignore their visas but must obtain documentation from the court to allow the immigration bureau to extend the permission to stay. Chatchai observed there were no juries in Thai trials and stressed that cases, with the appeal structures, can take years to resolve.
In a lengthy question and answer session, members raised a wide variety of topics from routine traffic accidents and property disputes to capital offences and blacklisting procedures involving the courts and immigration. There were inevitably questions about the collapse in personal relationships or short-term liaisons which one member described as a “coin-operated girlfriend”. When buying or investing in property, members were advised to insist on seeing the originals of documents, such as the chanoot or ownership proof, and not reply on copies.
Dr Bunnag described some of the charges for legal services, such as 10,000 baht for a simple Thai will, and pointed out that employing a lawyer can be an effective way of reducing delays or confusion when dealing with police, prosecutors and the courts. After thanking the guest speakers, officers of the club invited several new members to introduce themselves in this popular and welcoming expat society which meets each Wednesday morning in the Holiday Inn, north Pattaya.