Thais protest over move to allow foreigners to practice Law in Thailand
RALLY PLANNED IN BANGKOK AGAINST THE PROPOSED LIBERALISATION OF LEGAL PRACTICE SECTOR
THAI LAWYERS were getting ready yesterday to launch a rally in Bangkok today to voice their objection to an amendment to the Thailand Lawyers Act 1985, which would reportedly allow foreigners to practice law in Thailand.
Sarancha Sricholwattana, former secretary- general of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, said yesterday that the amendment would allow foreigners to take over this profession, which should be reserved for Thais. Hence, he said, the proposal should be held back pending a public hearing among lawyers across the country first.
In a statement on its website, the Lawyers Council explained that the amendment was actually meant to cover the position of legal adviser, which is currently held by 10 foreigners who are also members of the Thai Bar. It was also to ensure that foreigners who work in Thailand as legal advisers come under the supervision of the Lawyers Council, read the statement signed on November 25 by the council’s legal research and development institute.
The statement added that the council would not support the liberalisation of the sector and also said that it has created dozens of legal adviser study programmes to back its proposal for the position to also be put under the Thailand Lawyers Act.
The council said all Thai lawyers would be given a chance to scrutinise the full draft of the legislation before it is proposed to the Cabinet.
Sarancha, who is based in Chon Buri province, said the council had submitted the amendment proposal to the Justice Ministry on March 5 without informing lawyers practising in the country, which is why many were protesting against it.
Sarancha said he too was against the proposal as it might affect Thai lawyers’ profession, especially if foreigners are allowed to practice law in the country. “Over 70,000 lawyers in Thailand barely have enough work to do. This profession should be reserved for Thais – just like other occupations like hairdressing that is reserved for locals,” he said.
He also said that as a courtesy, the council should seek local lawyers’ opinions first, adding that the proposal should be withdrawn and a public hearing held to see if local lawyers are willing to accept it.