Doing business in Thailand legal advice

It is imperative that foreigners have proper legal advice prior to engaging in any business activity in Thailand. Thailand laws are strict, in some cases unusual, and violation of these laws can result in sever criminal penalties. For example: if you were found working in Thailand without a work permit you would be arrested and immediately incarcerated.  The maximum penalty for working without a work permit is 5 years imprisonment. While receiving the maximum penalty is unlikely, deportation is likely. It is also important to have International Thailand health insurance coverage.

Please be advised that what is a civil offense (not involving the police) in many countries may be a criminal offense (police arrest) in Thailand.

In Thailand, it is not uncommon for newly established businesses to find their already established competitors filing complaints about them with the police. (FYI: the criminal justice system in Thailand is accusation based and police will act without evidence that a crime has been committed.) The result is the arrival of 20-30 uniformed police officers at your place of business, where they will question your staff and perform a detailed search of all files, documents and computers. Your competition is hoping the government puts you out of business. At minimum it is intimidating harassment.  If the police find you to be operating a business or working in violation of the law, you will be arrested on the spot.

Every new business should anticipate that their competitors will attempt to use the authorities to close them down or harass them.

It is the job of your legal counsel to protect you from any and all possible violations of the law and assist you in setting up your business as required under the letter and intent of the law. Informed legal counsel will not expect you to have knowledge of the legal requirements of doing business in Thailand. Proper legal counsel will not even expect you to know what questions to ask in order to obtain knowledge of the legal requirements of doing business in Thailand. It is counsel’s job to inform you, and protect you, so you can concentrate on running your business with peace of mind.

You will find that there are varying levels of competency and professionalism within the legal community. Many firms promote low fees for the creation and registration of new business entities, business visas and work permits. You will learn the costs are actually much higher than advertised when you visit their offices.

To reduce your legal fees, there is a tendency in the Thailand legal community to provide you with a portion of the services required. Having only partial adherence to the complete range of legal requirements, you will later learn that you have violated the law.  You will have had no prior knowledge of the legal requirements and this will created a serious problem for you.

To avoid problems such as this you should always endeavor to retain legal counsel who you trust and respect, and not select legal counsel based on low prices. It is universally true,, “we get what we pay for”. Trust and respect are earned, not advertised.

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