Commemoration Day for the Father of the Thai Legal System

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The Chief Judge of Hua Hin Provincial Court Mr. Santi Chukitsappaisan announced that on 7th August the death of His Royal Highness Prince Rapee Phattanasak Kromluang Ratchaburi Direkliet  (1874-1920) will be commemorated.  On that day the Court will be paying tribute to the Prince who is considered to be the father of Thailand’s modern legal system.  A life-sized statue of the Prince stands in front of courthouses throughout Thailand.

Each year ‘Prince Rapee Day’ commemorates the passing away of the father of Thailand’s modern legal system, said Mr. Santi.  Prince Rapee, a son of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, was born on October 21st 1874. After he obtained his secondary education in Suan Kularb Palace School in Bangkok, he went on to study law at Christchurch College, Oxford University. The Prince became the youngest law graduate in Thailand as he finished the Bachelor Degree in Law with honours within three years at the age of 17. Normally it takes four years to complete the degree.

After graduating in England, Prince Rapee worked for the Secretarial Department of Siam.  Because of his intelligence and perseverance, he was able to do many jobs at the Department and was admired by other staff. His ability to draft correspondence pleased King Chulalongkorn so much that the Prince was called, “Smart Rapee”, and was subsequently appointed to the Privy Council. He also chaired a special committee to establish new provincial courts in Thailand. Despite the large number of legal cases, the Prince always dealt with them quickly, fairly and efficiently.

At the age of 22, Prince Rapee was promoted to become the Minister of Justice and worked hard to lay a firm foundation for Thai legal systems with international standards. The youngest chief executive of Thailand, Prince Rapee realised that Thai courts were being taken advantage of by foreign courts which claimed that Thai law was outdated. To address this problem he hired foreigners to work with Thai judges. This encouraged Thai judges to understand local and international law.  Thai courts became so well recognised that foreign embassies in Thailand allowed people of their countries who stayed in Thailand to use Thai legal procedures.

Another important task undertaken Prince Rapee was updating, correcting and modifying all Thai laws so that Thai people understood them and were able access to legal procedures.  He set up a committee composed of both Thai and foreign legal specialists. The committee then successfully came up with the first legal code of Thailand.  Upon its promulgation, the Prince produced written explanations of all legal codes to facilitate law education and interpretation.  This is the most important role of the Faculty of Law in Thailand. The committee drafted many laws and became the now Council of State.  The Prince established the first law school in the country in 1897, teaching the students himself.

In appreciation of the work of Prince Rapee, the Hua Hin Provincial Court would like to invite local people and visitors to join Judges, lawyers, police officers and business leaders in paying homage to the father of the Thai legal system on 7th August.

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