A general introduction to maritime law and practice in Thailand

All questions

Commercial overview of the shipping industry

In 2019, the value of export and import trade in Thailand was around US$450 billion.2 most of it was done by moving goods by sea. Thailand has around 150 commercial ports3 and 1,973 cargo ships4 whitelisted. The shipping industry plays a very important role in Thailand’s economy. At the end of 2021, the Thai government announced a plan to set up a “National Maritime Navigation Line” to improve the transport of goods by sea for Thai ships and boost export business in Thailand. The Thai government focuses on promoting and improving the shipping industry in Thailand.

General overview of the legal framework

Thailand is a civil law jurisdiction where laws are made by Parliament and regulations are made by an administrative body empowered by the legislature.5 Precedents set by Supreme Court rulings are not officially recognized in the same way as those of common law countries. However, certain precedents are officially published and may be used as guidelines in constructing the provisions of applicable law.6

Provisions of any treaty or international convention to which Thailand is party shall not be enforceable in court until such treaty is enacted as domestic law. As of February 9, 2022, the Conventions on the Law of the Sea that Thailand has ratified include:7

  1. the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention, 1948;
  2. the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974;
  3. the International Convention on Load Lines (LL), 1966;
  4. the International Convention on the Measurement of Ships (TONNAGE), 1969;
  5. the Convention on the International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREG), 1972;
  6. the International Convention on Standards of Training, Competence and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended 1995;
  7. the International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMASAT) Convention, 1976;
  8. the Convention for the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL), 1965;
  9. the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), 1973, as amended by the 1978 Protocol;
  10. the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC), 1992;
  11. the International Convention for the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Damages Caused by Oil Pollution (FUND), 1992;
  12. the International Salvage Convention, 1989;
  13. the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC), 1990; and
  14. the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC), 2006.

For some of the other areas of the law of the sea where international conventions have not been ratified, including carriage of goods, detention of ships and civil liability in collisions, Thai legislation partly resembles the relevant international conventions or a mixture of local regulations and international conventions. In particular, for some aspects of the law of the sea, such as B. tonnage or global limitations, no domestic legislation, although due to the Convention on the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC) 1976 and its long-established rules apply worldwide Protocol 1996. Thus Thailand is in a sense a paradise for claims at Maritime disasters that can involve large amounts of damage.

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