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Official Gazette

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Law on Mutual Legal Assistance under scrutiny

Updated: 17:29’ - 01/10/2014

The Law on Mutual Legal Assistance would be revised to improve its effectiveness, pending the development of separate laws regulating different aspects of mutual legal assistance in the future.

This is the conclusion of a conference held in Hanoi on September 30 by the Ministry of Justice to evaluate the implementation of the Law on Mutual Legal Assistance.

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Vietnam - Australia sign the Agreement on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters __ Photo: VNA

Enacted in 2008, the law was the country’s first-ever law providing for mutual legal assistance. After six years of implementation, the law has created a legal foundation for mutual legal assistance in the four
fields of civil law, criminal law, extradition and transfer of convicts.

The law is also regarded as an important step in Vietnam’s international cooperation efforts in the justice sector, serving as a ground for the country’s conclusion of and accession to numerous mutual, regional and international legal agreements and treaties.

From January 2008 to the end of June 2014, the Ministry of Justice received 14,842 judicial entrustment requests from Vietnamese agencies to deal with legal matters in other countries, of which 5,193 had been replied. Out of the replies, 540 came from countries which have signed mutual legal assistance agreements with Vietnam. Statistics show that replies from countries with agreements with Vietnam accounted for 39 percent, while replies from nations without bilateral agreements accounted for 34.5 percent.

The ministry also accepted a total of 2,876 judicial entrustment requests from other countries, including 1,229 from countries with mutual legal assistance agreements. Half of the received requests have been processed so far.

According to Deputy Justice Minister Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, the low level of responses to legal entrustment requests to foreign countries can be attributed to the lack of consistency between litigation regulations, especially civil proceedings, and the law on mutual legal assistance.

“The Civil Procedure Code still lacks legal guidance regarding cases related to foreigners,” Ngoc said. He also proposed the Government to allow courts to make direct requests to Vietnamese’ overseas representative missions, thus simplifying legal procedures and enhancing cooperation among relevant authorities. 

Governmental-level hotlines should be set up between Vietnam and countries that signed mutual judicial assistance agreements with Vietnam, to facilitate the exchange of information.

Conference participants also suggested the development of separate laws to regulate different aspects in mutual legal assistance in the long run. However, in the near future, the Law on Mutual Legal Assistance should be revised toward clearly determining its governing scope as well as mutual legal assistance-related matters governed by procedure laws, thus ensuring its conformity with Vietnam’s international commitments, meeting the demands for crime prevention and control, and better settling civil cases involving foreign elements.- 
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