Choice of foreign arbitration in contract with Vietnamese counter-parties

Vietnam officially acceded to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards (1958 New York Convention) on 28 July 1995. Accordingly, by virtue of the 1958 New York Convention, if the parties to a dispute reside in countries, which are members of the 1958 New York Convention, then the parties should be able to refer their disputes to a foreign arbitration. In addition, Article 12.3 of the Investment Law provides that any dispute to which one disputing party is a foreign investor or a foreign invested company, or any dispute between foreign investors could be submitted to, among others, a foreign arbitration or an international arbitration. Outside the context of the 1958 New York Convention and Article 12.3 of the Investment Law, there is no express provision under Vietnamese law, which generally allows disputes with a Vietnamese party or relating to assets in Vietnam to be submitted to foreign arbitration.

Vietnam Business Law Blog

Below is a list of key approvals and contracts required for a wind farm project in Vietnam (the Project):

  • Permission by provincial People’s Committee for the Project to carry out wind measurement;

  • Report on wind measurement result to the provincial People’s Committee;

  • Approval of the Pre-Feasibility Study of the Project;

  • Approval of the basic design part of the Feasibility Study of the Project;

  • In-principle Approval of the Project under the Investment Law 2014;

For a project financing or limited recourse financing in Vietnam, a mortgage over shares (or equity capital) of the project company usually forms part of the security package due to the ease of creating and perfecting a mortgage over shares. That said, when an enforcement event occurs and if the borrower or the project company does not cooperate, the lenders (usually foreign lenders), who wish to immediately taking over the mortgaged shares, may find it difficult to actually enforce the mortgage due to the need to complete various licensing procedures for the sale or transfer of the mortgaged shares.

Thanks to the flexibility offered by the Enterprises Law 2014 and the Investment Law 2014, lenders may now consider taking some extra measures to increase their ability to enforce the mortgaged over shares of a project company in Vietnam. In particular,

On 29 March 2019, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) issued Circular 3/2019 to amend and supplement some articles of Circular 32 of the SBV dated 26 December 2034 on restrictions in using foreign exchange within the territory of Vietnam (Circular 32/2013). Circular 3/2019 will take effect from 13 May 2019.

First, a bit of background, under the Foreign Exchange Ordinance, “in the territory of Vietnam” all transactions, payment, price denomination must not be made in foreign currencies except as permitted by the SBV. The SBV usually takes quite a restrictive (and, in our opinion, not reasonable) on what transactions are considered to occur “in the territory of Vietnam”.