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Are There Verbal Contracts in Thailand?

Transcript of the above video:

We are making this video today to talk about verbal agreements or oral agreements. I started thinking about this from a piece of correspondence I received from a viewer. Quoting directly: "Hi Ben, long time viewer of your YouTube channel. Do Thai Courts typically enforce verbal agreements like US Courts sometimes do or must things be in writing to have merit in Thai Courts? I have seen you discuss many times the difference between Thai Law and US Common Law. I think these concepts are fascinating and I think your audience might as well."  Okay, a couple of things. When lay folks start talking about things like verbal agreements it kind of makes me cringe. It is more out of fear because people that don't deal with legal work, deal with the law frequently can get it is kind of a false confidence associated with certain legal concepts.

Let me explain. I kind of look at verbal agreements so-called in much the same way I look at what is called Common Law Marriage. You will often see folks that are not in the legal profession again lay people they will talk about Common Law Marriage as if it is completely akin to just marriage, to marriage. Really the answer to both questions in my opinion with regard to verbal agreements, "Is there a verbal agreement?" "Is there a Common Law marriage?" Yes, if the Court says so. So in the Common Law marriage context which doesn't exist in Thai Law, but the Common Law Marriage notion is yeah a Court can create a Common Law Marriage. Oftentimes, they were constructively created if you will, so a Common Law Marriage came into existence constructively in order for the Courts to grant a divorce. That was where you often, at least in the reading of jurisprudence that I went through when I went through law school you often saw a common law marriage come into being because a divorce needed to do occur. This usually was the case where one party to the Common Law Marriage would essentially abandon the other party and the other party would bring it to Court to try and get a Common Law Marriage declared so that they could then divorce and thereby gain some property, gain some compensation from the marital estate basically. 

The point I am trying to get out with so-called verbal agreements is much like Common Law Marriage. You will see folks go around and sort of say "well I am Common Law married". Well not until the Court says you are, you are not; you aren't until you are. It is sort of like saying "Well we have got a verbal agreement." Yes you do okay and that may be usable, in fact oftentimes it can be usable in Court but the provisions of that agreement, if they are not written down, one of the big problems you are going to have is at the end of the day, the Court is probably going to write them down for you and that is even the case here in the Thai system where they use an inquisitorial process to make findings of facts and conclusions of law. 

So the thing to take away from this video is verbal agreements can be very useful in Thailand. I have seen them operate very well as a practical matter. That said, folks out there who are going to view those just as akin to a written agreement, they are really not. A written agreement is a substantially different thing so understand what you are dealing with when you are talking about a verbal agreement versus a written agreement.