Technical Assistance Project for Legal and Judicial System Reform

Technical Assistance Project for Legal and Judicial System Reform

The government of Vietnam has pursued a transition to a market economy since the adoption of the Doi Moi policy in 1986, and the1990s has made considerable improvements in the legal system as part of its policy of openness. However, many laws were required further revision due to a lack of development in basic legal theory and legislative technique as well as the transition underway from the philosophy of a planned economy. Therefore, the government of Vietnam performed a comprehensive assessment of the improvements required for its legal system from 2000 to 2002 with the full support of donors including Japan.

The assessment pointed out constraints in the country’s legal infrastructure and throughout its judicial system, so practical measures was formed to improve them. Meanwhile, the Politburo of the Central Committee Communist Party of Vietnam passed Resolution No. 48 “Strategy for the Development and Improvement of Vietnam’s Legal System to the Year 2010 and Direction for the Period up to 2020 (LSDS)” in 2005 to provide improvements to the legal system. It calls for a modern transition to the rule of law and a market-based economy, and lays out a strategy to develop Vietnam’s laws as well as improve their application and execution by 2020. Additionally, Resolution No. 49 “Judicial Reform Strategy to 2020 (JRS)” presents a strategy to reform Vietnam’s judicial system by 2020.

However, many issues still remain despite the aforementioned achievements have made in reforming Vietnam’s legal and judicial systems. In the field legal development, there is still a need for legislation to correct legal ambiguity, inefficiencies and discrepancies among laws. Furthermore, in the judicial field, promulgated laws are inadequately disseminated among judicial officers (judges, prosecutors and attorneys) at the local level in particular, and the lack of staff with sufficient capacity. The result is, unfair rulings are made and enforcements are delayed because of unclear decisions.

Since 1996, for more than 10 years, JICA has provided cooperation in these reforms, supporting the drafting of legal documents in the civil and commercial as well as human resource development (The Japanese Cooperation to Support the Formulation of Key Government Policies on Legal System (Technical Cooperation in Legal and Judicial Field), Phase 1 (1996-1999), Phase 2 (2000-2003), Phase 3 (2003-2007)). JICA also contributed to enactment of the Civil Procedure Code that was approved in June 2004 and the revised Civil Code approved in June 2005. Based on these experiences, JICA has been engaged in the project since April 2007 to solve the above problems in litigation and legal enforcement. The project sets Bac Ninh Province as a model to promote improvement in the litigation abilities of local judicial bodies and judicial officers. JICA is further applying the lessons learned through these activities to improve the supervision, guidance and support functions of central judicial bodies and the National Bar Association for local judicial bodies and attorneys. The project also provides support for training judicial officers and drafting relevant laws according to feedback on practical issues, such as the State Compensation Law.

This project is expected to contribute to improve the quality of justice and enforcement for the whole of Vietnam.