Overview Of The Vietnamese Legal System

  • 09/12/2022
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Overview of the Vietnamese legal system

The system of legal documents in Vietnam, Vietnam law system is formed and operated under the principle of Legislative – Executive – Judicial. National Assembly of Vietnam – Legislature has the supreme power to enact and supervise laws in Vietnam, followed by agencies of Executive and Judicial.

After the August Revolution 1945, the government of Democratic Republic of Vietnam came into being. Along with the government, a new legal system gradually formed to strengthen the government and social management. Over the time, the legal system has been improved and renewed. Vietnam law system contains all legal regulations, principles, directions, and targets of laws in tight combination and unity with each other. All regulations, principles, directions and targets are divided into legal professions and regulatory laws. They are expressed in documents issued by state agencies of Vietnam which have the authority to enact in certain forms and procedures.

The names referring to the legal system have many different perspectives. Some people are of the opinion that Vietnam law is composed of two parts: public laws and judicial. Meanwhile, others believe that distinguishing the two concepts: legal system and defined legal system is necessary, while, other perspective thinks that there is only one concept of legal system. According to this view, the Vietnam legal system has a wide range of content, including the current legal system and other sources of extant laws. Under this basis, the reality of law system is secured and brought into play. In this view, the legal system is a general concept including two aspects, namely: system of law structure and legislation system (legal source system).

Under the perspective about human right, law of Vietnam is divided into following groups

- Laws on civil and political rights
- Laws on social, economic and cultural rights
- Laws on disadvantaged social groups such as women, children, old people, …
- Laws on judicial field which is easily violated

In other perspective, Vietnam participates in international treaties on human rights leading to the national obligations, including ensuring the compatibility of national legislation with international human rights.

The structure system of law in Vietnam includes three basic elements:

- Delegated legislation (the basic unit in structure system)
- Legal institutions (set of legislation with same features)
- Laws (set of delegated legislation with same features to adjust social relations in certain social fields. There are 12 legal subjects in Vietnam:

1. Constitutional law

2. Administrative law

3. Financial law

4. Banking law

5. Property law

6. Civil law

7. Labor law

8. Marriage and family law

9. Criminal law

10. Criminal procedure law

11. Civil procedure law

12. Economic law

The system of legal documents in Vietnamese law consists of:

- Constitution is enacted by National Assembly of Vietnam
- Laws or Codes are approved by the assembly, and signed to issue by the President. These include a number of Codes, such as the Civil Code, Criminal Code, Civil Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Labor Code, and Maritime Code.
- Bylaws include:

1. Resolution by the National Assembly

2. Ordinance Resolution by Standing Committee of National Assembly

3. Orders and Decisions by President

4. Decrees and Decisions by Government

5. Decisions by Prime Minister

6. Resolution by the Judicial Council of the Supreme People's Court

7. Circulars by Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court

8. Circulars by Chief Procurator of the Supreme People's Court

9. Circular by Ministers, heads of ministerial-level agencies

10. Decisions by State Auditor General

11. Joint Resolution between Standing Committee of the National Assembly or between the Government and central agencies of political – society organizations

12. Joint Circular between the Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court and the Chief Procurator of the Supreme People's Court; between ministers, heads of ministerial-level agencies and Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court, Chief Procurator of the Supreme People's Court; between ministers and heads of ministerial-level agencies

13. Legal documents of People's Council and People's Committee

14. Resolution by People's Council

15. Directives and Decisions by People's Committee

The current legal system is similar to civil law jurisdictions in that its sources of law comprise only written legislation commonly referred to as legal instruments. These are laws and regulations enacted by state bodies which are binding on citizens and enforceable by the state. Court judgments are not officially considered a source of law as judges do not have the power to interpret the law and court judgments are not binding in subsequent cases.

The legal system is organized in a hierarchy in which higher-ranking legal instruments set out general rules and lower-ranking legal instruments provide the details. The Constitution stands at the top of this legal hierarchy and forms the foundation of the entire legal system. Under the Constitution are laws, ordinances, decrees, decisions, circulars and other subordinate legal documents dealing with different aspects of social life. 
- Constitution and laws are passed by the National Assembly and are the highest form of legal direction in Vietnam;
- Ordinances and resolutions are issued by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly when the National Assembly is not in session;
- Decrees are adopted by the Government on the implementation of laws and ordinances;
- Decisions are issued by the Prime Minister on the implementation of regulations; and
- Circulars and Joint Circulars are issued by ministries and provide guidance for implementation of decrees.
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