Disciplinary Fine in Thailand
As the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, Section 77, stipulates that the state should prescribe criminal penalties only for serious offences. Therefore, the Council of Ministers deems it appropriate to prescribe offences in a manner that violates or fails to comply with the laws in the case that they are not considered as serious offences and, under their nature, those do not cause serious effects on public order or good morals or have no widespread impact on the public, to be deemed as disciplinary offences. Those disciplinary offences will not be considered as criminal offences and disciplinary fines shall be imposed.
With the reasons and principles aforementioned, the Disciplinary Fine Act, B.E. 2565 (2022) (“Act”) has been enacted and published in the Government Gazette on October 25th, 2565 (2022) and will come into force on June 3rd, 2565 (2023), except for Section 37 and Section 38 Paragraph One which came into force on the date of its publication in the Government Gazette. It stipulates the rights and duties of relevant government agencies and competent officers to take actions in order to be ready to implement the provisions of this Act to meet its objectives upon the date this Act shall come into force.
Generally, criminal penalties for inflicting upon the offenders are death, imprisonment, confinement, fine and forfeiture of properties. However, subject to this Act, any criminal offences to be penalized in a form of fine only as stipulated in 204 different laws will be changed to disciplinary offences and no longer be considered as criminal offences except for:
1. Criminal offences to be penalized by imprisonment or higher penalty if such offences are committed by a natural person, but to be penalized in a form of fine only if a juristic person commits the same offences;
2. Criminal offences to be penalized in a form of fine only, provided that a higher penalty has been applied when the offences repeatedly commit the same or when there are other grounds impose that offenders shall be penalized with a higher penalty as prescribed by any other applicable laws; and
3. Criminal offences to be penalized in a form of fine only as stipulated in List no. 2 of this Act. However, such offences are entitled to be applied to be disciplinary offences in case that royal decrees for such offences have been enacted.
The 204 different laws as mentioned above are such as Land Transport Act, B.E. 2522 (1979), Highways Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, B.E. 2551 (2008), Public Assembly Act, B.E. 2558 (2015), Accounting Act, B.E. 2543 (2000). In addition, examples of minor offences in which those will be changed from criminal penalties to disciplinary fines are as follows:
1. Failure to show a driver’s license, a fine not exceeding 1,000 Baht;
2. Smoking in a non-smoking area, a fine not exceeding 2,000 Baht; or
3. By any means, cause a child not to study in an educational institution without reasonable cause, a fine not exceeding 10,000 Baht.
The change of penalties from non-serious offences, i.e. no imprisonment, to disciplinary fines has benefits in many ways including
1. The offenders will not have criminal records nor fingerprints kept in their record to discredit, dishonor, defame and affect their career and reputation.
2. The offenders will be fined only without detention during the trial and therefore it does not cause the burden of bail.
3. Disciplinary fines can be either paid in installments or chosen to work in social services instead of paying disciplinary fines.
4. The court will always take the behavior of the offenders and economic situation into consideration and may consider reducing disciplinary fines or just admonishing without collecting disciplinary fines if any crime was committed due to an offender’s poverty.
Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn, Managing Partner