II. Book I and II of November 1923

A. Translation Dispute (1919 – 1920)

On 11 November 1923, the first version of ประมวลกฎหมายแพ่งและพาณิชย์ บรรพ ๑ และ ๒ was promulgated. บรรพ ๑ consisted mainly of Preliminary from "Book on Obligations" and "Book on Capacity of Persons" of Draft 1919 while บรรพ ๒ consisted of Division I – VI from "Book on Obligations" of Draft 1919.

Such a division of "Book on Obligations" into two Books was not planned by the French advisers themselves. Apparently, it must have been a result of the intervention by พระยามานวราชเสวี, which probably started in 1919. Mr. René Guyon wrote in his "NOTE FOR TRANSLATION." of 15th January 1920:

The French Comissioners have no competency to give directions for or to make comments upon the translation of the Codes from English into Siamese. It is even very delicate for them to recommend such or such rule to be followed in a work of translation, because, as a fact, every translator has his own method. […] Many deliberation have been spent to that effort by the French Commissioners and they hope to have succeeded as far as it is possible to do in a human language.

∗ Archive Roll 08-4-section-01, Vol.46/1.

These words correspond exactly with the utterance of พระยามานวราชเสวี in his interview:

[…] แต่ฉันก็ได้ไปกราบทูลสมเด็จพระมงกุฎเกล้าฯ ว่ามันไม่ดี ทูลว่าข้าพุทธเจ้าได้ไปถามครูบาอาจารย์ทั้งหลายท่านก็ว่า มันใช้ไม่ได้ พระองค์ทรงทราบก็มิได้ว่าอะไร ท่านว่าไม่ได้ ต้องตั้งกรรมการเจ้านาย พอตั้งกรรมการเจ้านาย ท่านก็ว่าฉันว่า "มันแปลยังไงของมันวะไอ้บ้านี […] มันไม่ใช่ภาษาคน" ฉันก็ถามว่า "ที่ไม่ใช่ภาษาคนน่ะ มันผิดไหมล่ะคะ" ท่านก็ว่า "มันไม่ผิดแต่มันไม่เป็นภาษาคน" […]

∗ ภาควิขานิติศึกษาทางสังคม ปรัชญา และประวัติศาสตร์ คณะนิติศาสตร์ มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์ บันทึกคำสัมภาษณ์ พระยามานวราชเสวี, วิญญูชน พ.ศ.๒๕๕๗ น.๗๕–๗๖

B. Division of the Code (1920 – 1922)

After the settlement of the "translation dispute", the Commission of Codification probably discussed a new request to divide the Code into two Books. In regard with this issue, Mr. René Guyon wrote in his "NOTE for the Committee of Translation" of 24th August 1920:

[…] I remind that sections 1 to 39 of the present Draft Code of Obligations are general ones; if a Civil Code could have been published at one and the same time, section 1 to 39 would come in the beginning of such a Code, and the Book on Obligations would have begun by section 40. […]

∗ Archive Roll 06-4-section-01, Vol.35/83.

This initial concept about division of the Code, namely "Civil Code" (General Principles) and "Book on Obligations", was further developed in the discussion of the Commission. Finally, a three Books concept was established as late as in August 1922; namely "Book I on General Provisions", "Book II on Obligations", and "Book III on Specific Contracts".

According to the new concept, af first, the Thai translation of Book I and II was prepared as follows:

1. “บรรพ ๑ บททั่วไป” contains Secs. 1 – 39.

2. “บรรพ ๒ พันธะธรรม” contains Secs. 40 – 387.

∗ Archive Roll 11-6 Vol.71.

Then, the Thai translation of Book III (adopted from Draft 1919, Division VII. Title 1 – 21) was also once completely prepared:

3. “บรรพ ๓ ปริเฉทะสัญญา” contains Secs. 388 – 1128.

∗ Archive Roll 11-7 Vol.72, Roll 11-8 Vol.73.

C. Integration of Capacity and Juristic Persons (1922 – 1923)

However, in parallel to the preparation of the translation, the Commission decided to make another alteration to the Draft; namely integration of the part “Capacity of Persons” and “Juristic Persons” into Book I. As a result, the contents of Book I show a clear similarity to the German and Japanese Civil Codes. The "RECORD of the Meeting of the Commission of Codification" of 16th October 1922 reported as follows:

According the directions of His Majesty, the Commission of Codification have considered the introduction of the Part of the Civil Code concerning Capacity of Persons by the beginning of the present Draft.

They are of opinion that this comes practically to introduce in Book I (General Provisions) additional Titles concerning:

Personality (including Age, Name, Residence, Disappearance).

Capacity (including General Principles on Incapacitated Persons).

Juristic Persons.

This is exactly the policy which has been followed in several modern Codes, namely the German, Swiss and Japanese ones where the Book I (General Provisions) contains all these matters.

The Commission of Codification remind that all the above matters are already drafted and included in a Draft "Book on Capacity of Persons" which was printed in 1919 (after a preliminary revision made as soon as 1913). […]

∗ Archive Roll 06-5 Vol.36/75.

The extended Book I was then accomplished and translated into Thai language, which was finished in July 1923. The total number of its secsions was increased from 39 to 105. Accordingly, all the section numbers of Book II and III also had to be recounted as follows:

1. “บรรพ ๑ บทเบ็ดเสร็จทั่วไป” contains Secs. 1 – 105.

2. “บรรพ ๒ ว่าด้วยหนี้” contains Secs. 106 – 452.

∗ Archive Roll 12-2 Vol.76, Roll 12-3 Vol.77.

In this version, the Thai translation of Book I and II was newly accomplished. In the previous version of 1922, the Thai word แพนก was used for "Chapter", but now another word ลักษณ stood for "Chapter". Moreover, Sec. 2 in Book I (in the Archive Vol.77 cited above) clearly provided a fixed date of the implementation of Book I and II as follows:

มาตรา ๒ ให้ใช้ประมวลกฎหมายนี้ตั้งแต่วันที่ ๑ เดือนมกราคม พระพุทธศักราช ๒๔๖๗ เปนต้นไป

D. Recounting Problem in Book III (1923)

With regard to Book III (adopted from Draft 1919, Secs. 388 – 1128), however, the circumstances were different. Firstly, the Thai translation of the provisions stood still as of August 1922. Hand-written corrections were inserted to these old texts. Secondly, the secsion number started now from Sec. 453, but the recounting was suspended at Sec. 611:

3. “บรรพ ๓ เอกเทศสัญญา”; the recouning of the section number was done only from Secs. 453 to 611.

∗ Archive Roll 12-10 Vol.84.

According to these circumstances, we would assume that the translation and recounting work of Book III was once suspnded between Augst 1922 and July 1923. What could be a reason for this suspention? A possible reason would be a decition that Draft for Book III should be revised once again. In such a case, also its Thai translation and recounting of section numbers would have to be newly done.

∗ On the other hand, the last part of Book III (adopted from Draft 1919, Division VII, Title 22 – 23) has a document of its Thai translation dated Novermber 1923 (Archive Roll 13-1 Vol.85). However, its section numbers (Secs. 1129 – 1464) are still almost same as in Draft 1919 (Secs. 1129 – 1463). Moreover, the old Thai word แพนก was used for "Chapter" yet. These circumstances suggest that the drafters simply finalized the already performed alterations and their Thai translation, but did not attempt any further alterations.

Indeed, the French advisers reworked and "re-arranged" the Draft of Book III especially in the part of "Hire-Purchase", "Insurance" and "Bill of Exchange". Later on 10th March 1924, Mr. Guyon wrote in his letter to the Minister of Justice, เจ้าพระยาอัยราชามหายุติธรรมธร, as follows:

Your Excelelency,

I beg to forward copies of a number of Notes concerning Book III of the Civil and Commercial Code (Specific - Contracts) which have been delivered by the Department of Legislative Drafting to the Revising Committee, in the course of the three last months, namely:

a draft re "Hire - Purchase",

a draft re "Insurance" this title having been redrafted upon request of the Revising Committee,

a draft re "Bills of Exchange" this matter having been re-arranged upon request of the Revising Comittee.

I am your most faithful servant.

∗ Archives Roll 08-1 Vol.43/233.

E. Promulgation of Book I and II (November 1923)

These new Codes were promulagated on 11th November 1923 ⇒ See Resources [1]; «ฉบับเก่า»

◊ บรรพ ๑ บทเบ็ดเสร็จทั่วไป (มาตรา 1 – 105)

◊ บรรพ ๒ วว่าดด้วยหนี้ (มาตรา 106 – 452)

 Anyways, it would be quite probable that พระยามานวราชเสวี had already taken over the leadership in the Commission of Codification as he was appointed as an ordinary member of the Commission on 27th October 1923. After the promulgation, the next project started soon for Book III on Specific Contracts. At first, a new Draft was prepared, and its final revision was done from May to December 1924. The first phase of the revision works was lead by พระยามานวราชเสวี as described below.

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