In 2012, many
Vietnamese companies are facing difficulties and have to cease operation. In
other developed countries, the bankruptcy law plays an important role in the
restructuring of a company having financial difficulties. The same cannot be
said for Vietnam. However, to some extent, bankruptcy is still a credible
option in theory for corporate restructuring in Vietnam. Therefore, a good
understanding of Vietnamese bankruptcy law is still necessary.
Under Vietnamese legislation, there is no concept of personal insolvency but only concept of bankruptcy for enterprises.
In Vietnam, the regulations on bankruptcy of companies and reorganization and restructuring of companies in bankruptcy process are mainly provided in:
- The Law on Bankruptcy; and
- Resolution 3 of the Supreme Court dated 28 April 2005.
The average timing from the petition filing until the deletion off the registry book of a bankrupt company is about 150 days assuming that no recovery plan is adopted and implemented. If there is an appeal against the court’s decision to commence the liquidation procedures, a period of at least 90 days will be added for the court of higher level to consider the appeal.
An enterprise is considered bankrupt if it is “unable to pay the due debts upon request by the creditors”. Resolution 3 further clarifies that “due debts” are the unsecured debts or partly secured debts, which is expressly recognized by the relevant parties, supported by adequate evidencing documents and free of dispute.
Filing and acceptance of a petition for bankruptcy proceedings
Petition: An unsecured or partly secured creditor of a company by noticing that the company is in bankrupt status will have the right to file a petition for bankruptcy proceedings against such company together with evidence of the bankrupt status
Court’s fee: The petitioner must make an advance of the bankruptcy fees, determined the court
Court: The competent court in charge of bankruptcy cases is the provincial court of the locality where the company in bankruptcy registered for its business registration.
Acceptance of bankruptcy hearing: The Court will issue a decision whether to commence the bankruptcy proceedings within 30 days from the date of acceptance of the petition for bankruptcy proceedings. Creditors and debtors of the company are also entitled for being noticed of such decision.
Commencement of bankruptcy proceedings
Company’s operation: After the issuance of the court’s decision to commence bankruptcy proceedings, the business activities of the company in bankruptcy will be subject to the supervision and inspection of the judge in charge of the case and the Board for Asset Management and Liquidation (Liquidation Board).
Standstill: After the issuance of the court’s decision to commence bankruptcy proceedings, the disposal of the company’s secured assets for secured creditors will be temporarily suspended.
List of company’s assets: Within 30 days from the date of receiving the court’s decision to commence bankruptcy proceedings, the company will have to list out an inventory of its assets in accordance with the detailed list submitted to the court and determine the value of such assets.
Preparation of the list of creditors: Within 60 days from the last day of publication of the court's decision to commence bankruptcy proceedings, creditors of the company must submit to the court their detailed request for debt payment. Within 15 days from the expiration of the above 60 days, the Liquidation Board must prepare a list of creditors with details of the debts thereof.
Convention of the Creditors Meeting: Within 30 days from the completion of the list of creditors or the list of company’s assets, depending on which date comes first, the competent court will convene the first meeting of the company’s creditors to discuss the company’s situation and approve a resolution to recover the company’s business, if the creditors consider that the company is recoverable. If the creditors consider that the company is not recoverable then the court will decide to commence the liquidation procedures.
Recovery of business activities
The plan will then be subjected to the approval of the second meeting of the company’s creditors. The maximum term for the company to implement the business recovery plan is 3 years from the last day of publication of the Court’s adoption of the creditor’s resolution approving the company’s recovery plan
Within 30 days from the approval of the resolution to recover the company’s business, the company is required to prepare and submit the plan to recover its business activities to the Court, specifying the necessary measures to recover the operations as well as the conditions, term and schedule for repayment of debts.
Commence the liquidation procedures: The court will decide to commence the liquidation procedures for the company’s assets in the following cases: (1) the failure of the first creditor’s meeting, (2) the company fails to propose a recovery plan, (3) the company implements improperly the approved recovery plan or (4) the creditors do not approve the company’s recovery plan.
Settlement of undue debts: Where the court decides to commence the liquidation procedures, any undue debts of the company existing at that time will be treated as due debts, without any interest for the undue period.
Settlement of secured debts: Where the court issues decision on commencing the liquidation procedures, debts secured by the company’s assets before the courts’ acceptance of bankruptcy hearing will be given priority in payment by such assets.
Priority of assets distribution: Where the court decides to commence the liquidation procedures, the assets of such liquidated company will be distributed in the priority order of (1) bankruptcy fees, (2) unpaid salary, severance allowances, social insurance and other benefits of its employees, and (3) unsecured debts.
Termination of the liquidation procedures: The court will decide to terminate the assets liquidation procedures when the company has no more assets to carry out the assets distribution or the assets distribution has been fully completed.
Declaration of bankruptcy
The court will make the decision to declare the bankruptcy of the company along with the decision to terminate the liquidation procedures thereof. Within 10 days from the date of such decision, the court will forward the decision to the business registration office for deleting the bankrupt company’s name from the business registry.
Under the Law on Bankruptcy, inter alia, the following transactions may be held by the court to be invalid if conducted within three months prior to the date of acceptance of the bankruptcy application (the suspect period):
- settlement of any bilateral contract under which the obligations of the Counterparty are apparently greater than those of the other party; and
In a recent post, we have discussed the concept of “wholesale” and “retail” as two forms of activities under the regulations concerning trading activities by FIEs in Vietnam. From the commercial perspective, “distribution” (phân phối) activities should involve the purchase or import of goods from suppliers for selling to customers. Thus, if an FIE has registered distribution business (i.e., wholesale or retail), it should naturally be able to import goods to sell within its distribution rights without being subject to further licensing requirements. However, this may not be justified from the legal perspective as the purchase of goods to sell in Vietnam or abroad by an FIE is classified as other forms of trading and should be licensed before implemented. Under Vietnamese regulations,
On 15 October 2018, the Government issued Decree 143/2018, which details regulation on compulsory social insurance (Social Insurance) applicable to foreign employees under the Social Insurance Law 2014. Before the issuance of Decree 143/2018, the Social Insurance Law 2014 only provides that foreign employees would be “allowed” to participate in Vietnam’s Social Insurance from 1 January 2018. For a long time, this vague regulation has given rise to concern as to whether the Social Insurance contribution for foreign employees is compulsory or voluntary. Decree 143/2018 now officially confirms that this is compulsory. In particular,
On 20 August 2018, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) issued Circular 21/2018 to amend and supplement some articles of Circular 47 of the MOIT dated 05 December 2014 on management of e-commerce websites (Circular 47/2014) and Circular 59 of the MOIT dated 31 December 2015 on management of e-commerce activities via applications on mobile equipment (Circular 59/2015). Below are some notable provisions of Circular 21/2018.
Set out below are some legal issues in transfer of debts (Debts) from a credit institution (Originator) to a company licensed to trade debts in Vietnam (Debt Trading Co). Debt trading between a credit institution and a credit institution is useful for the credit institution to handle its bad debts or to issue assets-backed securities:
Credit institutions are allowed to negotiate loan interest rates based on market demand and supply and the creditworthiness without being restricted to maximum interest rate except in some cases. Meanwhile, interest rates of loans extended by non-credit institutions are subject to the maximum interest rate of 20% per annum under the Civil Code 2015. In practice, interest rates of consumer loans are quite high and could be higher than the maximum rate of 20% per annum. If the interest rate of the Debts is higher than 20% per annum, it is not clear at law whether the Debt Trading Co, upon owning the Debt, can continuously charge such interest rate;
In September 2018, the Government issues Decree 117/2018 on protection of customers information in banking sectors replacing Decree 70/2000. Decree 117/2018 applies to confidentiality, storage and providing of information by credit institutions and foreign bank branches (collectively referred to as CI) relating to the deposit and asset of customers with the CI. The following points are notable:
· Decree 117/2018 does not apply to, among other things, information, which is classified as State secrets and which is governed by State secrets regulations. Under the old Decision 151/2003 of the Ministry of Police, information regarding customer deposits with a CI is classified as “State secret” at secret level. It is not clear if this classification still remains valid since Decision 45/2007 of the State Bank, which is based on Decision 151/2003, does not list customer deposit information as a State secret. Decree 117/2018 does not clarify this uncertainty;
Decree 9/2018 introduces a new approach regarding trading activities of foreign invested enterprises (FIE) in Vietnam. In particular, wholesale of most goods is not subject to the requirement of Trading License (Giấy Phép Kinh Doanh). However, Decree 9/2018 is still uncertain on the category of wholesale versus retail activities. A clearer definition of these concepts is important because an FIE conducting retail activities must apply for a Trading License with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT).
Under Decree 9/2018,
“wholesale” means the activities of selling goods to (a) wholesalers, (b) retailers, and (c) other traders, organizations; exclusive of retail activities;
“retail” means the activities of selling goods to (a) individuals, (b) households, and (c) other organizations for consumption purposes.
There are some issues arising from the above definitions under Decree 9/2018: