Vietnamese bankruptcy regulations

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.

Basic knowledge

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.

Bankrupt status

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.

Assets liquidation

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.

Voidable transactions

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):

  • the payment of debts which are not yet due.
    • settlement of any bilateral contract under which the obligations of the Counterparty are apparently greater than those of the other party; and

    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”.

    The following is a non-exhaustive list of licenses, permits and requirements on environment which an industrial park in Vietnam need to comply with.

    1. Environment impact assessment report (EIAR – Báo cáo đánh giá tác động môi trường) or environment protection plan (EPP – Kế hoạch bảo vệ môi trường).

    2. Confirmation on completion of the environmental protection works (Xác nhận hoàn thành công trình bảo vệ môi trường).

    The following is a non-exhaustive list of licenses, permits and requirements on firefighting and prevention applicable for an industrial park in Vietnam which are subject to the monitor of firefighting and prevention and may pose a risk of fire and explosion.

    1)          Appraisal of firefighting and prevention design (Thẩm duyệt thiết kế về phòng cháy chữa cháy) by the competent authority before commencing the construction.

    2)          Acceptance of firefighting and prevention (Nghiệm thu về phòng cháy và chữa cháy) by the competent authority before putting the construction works into operation.

    3)          Compulsory fire and explosion insurance for the properties of the industrial park.