APRAG Conferences Session 5 Thailand: The interrelationship between local lawyer and international arbitration.
The topic could be interpreted that how local lawyer and international lawyer interact in international arbitration. The speaker shared his experience when he served as a director of Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) which could be a good guidance for Thailand. At the beginning of SIAC, he sent letters to all partners around the world to invite them to use SIAC service. However, there would be some remarks such as Thai dispute resolution is different from international dispute resolution, the right of the foreign lawyer to be counsel is still limited under Thai law and lastly Singapore government is very keen to allow foreign lawyer and law firm to practice law or provide legal service in Singapore. Unlocking the door to allow foreign lawyer to provide arbitration service is challenging and will raise the concern from Thai lawyer at the beginning. In contrast, it opens the opportunity on international trade and investment because Thai economy grows rapidly especially in international investment in which obviously the international contract contains arbitration clause. Singapore lawyers are worried at the beginning step but when they look back to the past, they feel very successful to expand their market to international arbitration.
The advices for domestic lawyer to enhance their capacity to participate international arbitration.
- Learn about international arbitration, law applicable to arbitration, New York Convention, Washington Convention, Model Law, Regulations from the leading arbitration centers like ICC, SIAC, HKIC, LCAIC, International Bar Association.
- Try to find the opportunity to learn about the practice in international arbitration.
- Build the network on international commercial arbitration by trying to attend conferences meet people
It is understandable to concern about opening the market for foreign lawyer but the market will force to open and we need to think about the future whether we will need to open or not.
The interesting model is Hongkong where the Arbitration Association was founded comprising of foreign lawyer from big law firm and domestic lawyer from small local firm as the committee. This model is very successful to gather international lawyer and domestic lawyer. The Arbitration Association has organized conferences and meeting to communicate among each others. It doesn’t mean it will be successful in another country. Perhaps, it is because Hong Kong has a good positive environment for international arbitration. The international lawyer and local lawyer perform their jobs very well in big cases which requires many lawyers.
The law of Hong Kong allows foreign lawyers to be counsel in arbitration case along with domestic lawyer as (Co-Counselling). This model is essential to integrate the cooperation between international lawyer and domestic lawyer to do the case in which the clear division of labor as well as the case management are the role of local lawyers who have better knowledge of Kong Kong law.
Thai speaker remarks on the Co-Counselling model which allows foreign lawyer to practice as arbitrator with Thai lawyer that there would be 3 obstacles. The first one is language barrier of Thai lawyer because there is a limited number of Thai lawyers being so skillful in English that could practice with foreign lawyer in international case. The second is culture of Thai lawyer to open his mind for such model including they do not understand the common law proceedings because Thailand is civil law country. The last problem is the lock down law that prohibits the foreign lawyer is not Thai Lawyer Act but the Alien Working Act that has been construed so broadly that working as a case counsel of the foreign lawyer becomes providing legal service which is restricted for Thai lawyer.