Online Witness Examination

online witness examination

Thailand Court now supports online witness examination. This is due to the recent Covid-19 situation wherein people are unable to travel to Thailand to testify.

Any litigant wishing to examine their witnesses must submit a petition to the court. The litigant must pay the extra regulatory fee for online witness examination. They also have to specify which applications to use for the court hearing, such as LINE, ZOOM, FaceTime, etc.

Once the court approves the petition, the appointment of the witness hearing is then scheduled. The court conducts only one witness examination on screen per day, from Tuesday to Friday from 9:00am to 4:30pm.

Before the screen examination appointment, the lawyer prepares, sets up, and tests the system in the courtroom. The witness who will be participating may also appear on the video for testing.

During the hearing, the interpreter and the lawyer must be present at the courtroom. For the witness to testify, in a proper place, he must have another eyewitness along with him to determine his identity. The eyewitness should be a credible person who can either be a lawyer, a notary public, the village headman, etc, provided that such eyewitness must have evidence to show to the Court.

Any documents or evidence to be used for examination from the witness is at the discretion of the Court. Typically, the officer will accept a copy of the evidence to be shown to testify, but must submit the original documents thereafter.

Moreover, if one party needs to request for a court online hearing, he must have a consent from the other party. For estate management case, online examination via screen is applicable.

Thailand Considers Legalizing Abortion

The cabinet recently approved a draft amendment to the Criminal Code proposing to legalize abortion for pregnancies of not more than 12 weeks. This amendment aims to address the concerns of women of their rights to life and body. According to The Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Medical Council of Thailand, it is safer to have an abortion during the 12-week period of pregnancy.

 

The amendment also outlines exceptions, that will allow termination of pregnancies to happen and that would reduce the penalties for having an abortion for pregnancies of more than 12 weeks. Moreover, it includes an exception for cases of high risks of serious fetal disabilities or genetic disorders.

 

Women who are less than 12 weeks pregnant and are planning to terminate unwanted pregnancies will no longer be liable to legal punishment, upon approval early next year.

 

At present, Thailand only allows abortion in the event of medical conditions or risks to life, or when the pregnancies are the result of rape, deceptions or force. Hence, women resort to risky self-induced abortions, making unsafe abortion as one of the most common causes of mortalities in women around the world.

Considerations for Divorce in Thailand

If you are unfortunate enough to be facing divorce in Thailand then you may find the procedures and regulations far different to that of say EU Nations or the USA.

In general, if you or your spouse are currently living in the Kingdom you can file for a divorce provided there are sufficient grounds. If the marriage was registered in Thailand and both parties agree then the process is mainly administrative.

An uncontested divorce can be obtained at the local District Office (khet/amphur). The application must be made in writing and witnessed by two people and registered with the relevant authorities. There is no requirements for any lawyers attendance.

 

Registering the Divorce

Registration is made at the District Office. Normally it is not possible to book an appointment.

You are required to take:

  • Completed signed documents
  • ID photo’s
  • Passports
  • The marriage certificate

What if the Divorce is Contested?

If either party contests the divorce, or you both can not agree on financial issues, division of assets or child custody, then a divorce may be filed with a Thai court. The reasons and grounds for a divorce has to be demonstrated personally in court.

Grounds for divorce include:

  • Separation of over three years
  • Adultery
  • Desertion of partner for over twelve months
  • Criminal misconduct
  • Prison
  • Insanity for over three years
  • Misbehaviour
  • Physical disability causing husband and wife unable to cohabitate
  • Incurable disease
  • Mental or physical abuse
  • A spouse has disappeared
  • A spouse has failed to provide proper maintenance and support their partner

 

How are the Assets Divided in Court?

Thailand is a “Community Property” jurisdiction. This means that separate property and assets acquired before marriage remain with their original owners. Property and assets acquired whilst in marriage are equally divided.  

However, the rules of division of property are complex and the court will decide according to these rules. Prenuptial agreements can alter the distribution of property during a divorce.

Debts incurred during the marriage are normally the responsibility of both parties.

 

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are legal in Thailand providing they meet the requirements of Thai Law. Thailand has it’s own requirements for registering a prenuptial agreement before marriage. If the agreement was taken in another country then generally the Thai courts will accept it as long as the agreement was legal in the originating country.

 

What if you are Living Outside Thailand

If you are now living abroad, the Thai court may potentially still have jurisdiction over a divorce action. Therefore a lawyer may still be able to file for a divorce for you even if you are living outside the country.

However, normally a plaintiff must appear at least once in person during the legal procedure.  

 

Divorce Settlements

An arrangement has to be made in a settlement if children are involved. If there is no provision made the court will determine the provisions.

In the case of adultery, normally the innocent spouse receives the benefits. The guilty party may have to pay living allowance as part of the agreement. However, the right is void when the party receiving the allowance remarries.  

 

Foreign Nationals

In general, foreign nationals may obtain a divorce in Thailand providing they can prove minimum residency requirements.
If the divorcing couple did not marry in Thailand then normally they do not qualify for an administrative uncontested divorce at the District Office. Providing they qualify a divorce may be applied for through the Thai courts.

Thailand Leads Hotel Residence Boom in SEA

Thailand leads hotel residence boom in SEA

According to new research by C9 Hotelworks, the Thai based consulting group. There are currently over 28,000 hotel-branded residential units for sale across the region representing 120 projects.

This led to Thailand becoming Southeast Asia’s number one in the field and exemplified the close association between global hospitality brands and property developers in Thailand. There is an estimated US $ 3.5 billion inventory for sale.

The rapid growth of traditional resort hotels cashing in on the real estate market has driven mass investment. The large hotel chains are using their weighty brand names to associate quality and service that is synonymous with their luxury chains. This in turn gives reassurance and an expectation of quality to the potential buyers.

 

Global Financial Crisis

During the global financial crisis, Asia like many other regions fell back to their core domestic market in terms of real estate. But more recently the progression has attracted an increasingly high volume of top tier developers with massive, large scale projects.

The differential between the average price of traditional urban Thai properties and resort destinations is significant. While urban prices of around US$ 7 sqm are still rising sharply the resort destinations are far lower at US$ 4sqm. Plus the latter offer a plethora of services and extras that are corresponding with a luxury brand.

Thailand leads the race at 37% with Indonesia 22% and Vietnam 18% also having considerable numbers. Malaysia and the Philippines 9% are also slowly growing with the same economic philosophy.

One key factor driving urban projects is the price of land. The projection forecasts calls for an increasing number of developers seeking associations and affiliations with major hotel group brands. This affiliation can offer between 20% / 30% premium in prices with the associated hospitality assets.

 

Phuket, Bangkok & Pattaya

The three top places in Thailand for such affiliated joint developments are Phuket, Bangkok and Pattaya. Together there are 44 developments with 5,000 units available for sale.

Another catalyst for the rising tide is the increasing demand by potential buyers for mix-use projects that contain hotel and real estate components. Large hotel brands can offer the facilities and luxury design, service that is almost becoming the norm for the buying market.

End users and in SEA now overshadows Traditional buyers. Asians are representing the largest buying segment showing a change in lifestyle living. Bangkok’s massive success story at the St Regis Residences demonstrated this, while a more recent Four Season’s development was also extremely popular.

Big Thai hotel and hospitality groups such as Minor, Onyx and Dusit are at the front end of this new economic push and are tapping into the movement both in Thailand and overseas. What is clear in looking at the landscape is that rapidly escalating land prices are driving developers to embrace mixed-use projects in increasing numbers, and often add in commercial, sporting and tourism attractions as part of broader lifestyle offerings.

 

Cost of Land

The facts and figures bear testament that the property market has a definitely changing face in Thailand and the SEA community as a whole.

Costs of land is partly driving this but it is more detailed than simply cost. The ability of global hotel chains with years of history and reputation have large input in the new growing market. Their brands associates with luxury, service and extremely high standards.

Together with their huge marketing awareness and past success, they are the perfect partners for developers to associate with and to provide the perfect dwelling solution.

It is the face of property development for the future in Thailand and throughout the whole region. Buyers are becoming more demanding and wish for more associated services alongside their actual living unit.    

 

Loan Assistance for Home Buyers in Thailand

Buying homes in Thailand has complications just like any other country in the world. Finding initial deposits and fulfilling the necessary legal and payment requirements is just as much a pain in Thailand as anywhere else, especially with the current world economic climate.

In October 2015 short-term intermediate measures were announced by Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong to help house buyers secure the all important and difficult loans. Hopefully this in turn will stimulate the real estate market which will drive further construction. Mr Tantivorawong declined to comment on the implementation of the land and buildings tax and when it might come into effect.

 

VAT Proposals

There is a proposal to increase VAT from seven to ten percent but it might be offset by the nationwide e-payment initiative being fully implemented. Added to this is the introduction to encourage businesses to have only one financial account.

The Minister also added that the real problem to people securing house loans at present was that the banks were reluctant to give out money during the current economic climate.

 

Press Rejection

Mr Tantivorawong went on to further say that this was not a matter that should have been brought to public attention by the press as nothing had been finalised and currently nothing has changed.

This confusion could prove to panic people and force delays in house buying while people hesitate for legislation. His concern was any uncertainty over the confusion and mix messages abounding.

Apisak reiterated that the draft of the Land and Construction tax is still very much under review by the ministry as the new Council of Economic Ministers had assigned more work and understanding to take place to enable fairness to all parties.

 

Land And Construction Tax

The former finance minister and the former deputy prime minister signed off on the bill before their replacements took office, but the new Council of Economic Ministers have decided to revise the bill before it goes in front of the new Cabinet. The Minister quoted that he hoped the revision would be completed by the end of 2015.

 

Loan Assistance

Due to all these delays and the uncertainty facing the ratification of the bill and the possible hike in VAT, Mr Tantivorawong said e-payments and the single account measures should be able to compensate for the income gained from the VAT increase.

He personally believes that the measures could compensate the missing revenue and there would be no need to increase VAT.

Due to the delay then short term loan assistance would be implemented to help people in the interim to aid their purchasing of homes.

The president of the Thai Condominium Association, Mr Prasert Taedullayasatit was quoted as saying that it would be better if low income buyers had financial assistance to help and make it easier to get mortgages. He highlighted that the low income market was only responsible for 10% of the overall Thai property market last year.

 

The Five Stimuli Package

Whilst the housing market faced all this confusion the government implemented five key strategies to bring stimulus to the economy.

  • Corporate income tax would be reduced from 23% to 20%
  • Corporate income tax and dividend tax exemptions will be provided for government venture capital funds for a period of ten years.
  • Real estate transfer fees will be reduced from 2% to 0.01% for six months and mortgage fees will be reduced to 1% for the same period.
  • The Government Housing Bank will receive 10 billion baht to provide assistance to low income earners.
  • First home buyers can deduct taxable income with 20% of home value for a period of five years.

This stimuli is an attempt to provide financial help in this difficult period of uncertainty in the home buying market and whilst the economic slowdown is currently in effect.

The confusion of possible legislation concerning the rise in VAT has compounded the situation and the government is at pains to convince the market that this is only a suggestion and is not ratified.

Amendments to the Foreign Business Act to be proposed to the Cabinet

Amendments to the Foreign Business Act to be proposed to the Cabinet

investment2The Commerce Ministry’s Department of Business Development (DBD) will propose that the Cabinet modernize the Foreign Business Act (FBA) and get Thailand ready for the seamless ASEAN market.

The amendment will focus on concession in order to provide fair competition for Thai and Foreign Business Investors. Furthermore, this will facilitate business growth, and eliminate the nominee issues.

Under the amended law, there will be streamlining of business regulations and foreigners will find the Thai environment more conductive to investment.

In addition, Thailand will be capable of competing under the coming regional integration, which will allow investors from the ASEAN countries to own up to 70 percent of certain service businesses.

 

 

New, Stricter Rules Established for Thailand’s Transportation

A common criticism of Thailand’s transportation such as that directed against hired car or taxis is that the drivers overcharge their customers by taking indirect longer routes. Pattaya City is among the areas affected.  As many tourists have experienced unsatisfactory customer services, a new regulation to control misbehaving drivers has been established.  In addition, drivers repeating the misconduct will be suspended for 3-7 days; and if they still fail to change their ways, their services will be permanently banned.

For more information please call Chonburi Transportation Authority Office Hotline number 1556.

DSI Crackdown on Thai Nominee Shareholding

DSI Crackdown on Thai Nominee Shareholding
Crackdown on Thai Nominee Shareholding

The Department of Special Investigations (DSI) had a meeting about a crackdown on foreign businesses who practice Thai nominee shareholding. This crackdown is to effectively control Thai companies.

Their objectives are for the Aliens coming to the Kingdom of Thailand, to operate their businesses according to the rules and regulations.

For more information please visit : https://www.dsi.go.th/

New Regulations for Visa Extension

New Regulations for Visa Extension
New Regulations For Visa Extension

Effective 29th August 2014, the new regulations for Visa Extension or temporary stay in the Kingdom of Thailand are:

  1.  Foreign Nationals entitled for visa exemption entering with Tourist status will be allowed only one extension per visit and will not exceed 30 days from the additional stamp expiry date.
  2.  Foreign Nationals who overstay more than 90 days will be forbidden from entering the Kingdom of Thailand from 1-5 years.

For more details please visit : https://bangkok.immigration.go.th  or call 1111

 

Accounting and Financial Reports

Accounting and Financial Reports
What is a Financial Statement?

A Financial statement is a formal record of the financial activities of a business, person, or other entity presenting the results of operations and the financial position of the company.

Who shall have the duty to keep accounts?

A registered partnership, public limited company, or limited company established under a Thai law, a juristic person established under a foreign law engaging in a business in Thailand, and a joint venture under the Revenue Code shall have the duty to keep accounts, and must provide the bookkeeping for its business operations in accordance with the details, rules and procedures prescribed under the Accounting Act, B.E. 2543 (2000). Failure to provide bookkeeping or comply with the regulations shall be liable to penalty.

All companies in Thailand need to prepare and comply with the following:

-Monthly Financial Reports (Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement)

-Withholding Corporate Income Tax Return (PND 3, 53)

-Withholding Income Tax Remittance Return (PND 54)

-Half-year Corporate Income Tax Return (PND 51)

-Value Added Tax Return (PP 30)

-Annual Corporate Income Tax Return (PND 50)

-Annual Financial Statement

-Accounting Transactions Record

What is a Balance Sheet?

A Balance Sheet is a financial statement that summarizes a company’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time. It’s called a balance sheet because the two sides balance out. A company has to pay for all the things it has (assets) by either borrowing money (liabilities) or getting it from shareholders (shareholders’ equity). These three balance sheet segments give investors an idea as to what the company owns and owes, as well as the amount invested by the shareholders.

Why do we need a Balance Sheet?

We can use this report to obtain a complete picture of the financial results and financial position of a business on the last date of the financial year. A balance sheet records the arrangement of money in a business. It shows the accounting value of all the company’s assets, liabilities and equity at one moment in time. In turn, this may lead to conclusions regarding the liquidity of the entity.  We can use the Balance sheet data to compute key indicators that reveal the company’s ability to meet its obligations.

When must a company make and submit a Balance Sheet?

The submission of financial statements shall be in accordance with the rules and procedures prescribed by the Directors-General of the Revenue Department and the Department of Business Development.

A company must make their balance sheets at least once every twelve months. Such twelve-month period constitutes the company’s accounting period or financial year. A newly established company should close accounts within 12 months from its registration. A qualified external auditor must certify the financial reports. Consequently, the officer must file hose reports with the Revenue Department and Department of Business Development every year.

One or more auditors must examine the balance sheets. The officer must then submit it for adoption to a general meeting within four months after its date. They also need to send a copy to every person entered in the register of shareholders at least three days before the general meeting. The company must also keep copies in their office during the same period for inspection by the shareholders.

Where the accounts or the documents relevant thereto are lost or damaged, the person having the duty to keep accounts shall notify the Chief Accounts Inspector or the Accounts Inspector of the loss or damage, in accordance with the rules and procedures prescribed by the Director-General, within fifteen days from the date of knowledge thereof, or the date such loss or damage ought to have been known.

What happens upon failure to submit the audited financial reports on time?

The company’s annual financial reports must be filed, along with its annual income tax return, with the Revenue Department and Department of Business Development, within 150 days after the end of its accounting period. Otherwise, the company is liable to a certain penalty or fine which may also be applicable to its responsible officer.

Can a company change its year-cycle of account?

Yes, by obtaining written approval from the Revenue Department’s Chief Accounts Inspector. Their officer needs to submit Form SorBorChor 4 together with other related documents.