Establishing Court Precedents - A New Development

A court judgment in Vietnam is not a legal instrument and does not bind subsequent judgments on the same subject. This makes court judgments in Vietnam less important to lawyers than official letters issued by Government authorities. In October 2012, the Supreme Court has taken the first step to establish a “non-binding” court precedent system in Vietnam. In particular, the Supreme Court has approved a plan:

to require all lower courts to refer and consult the “re-hearing decisions” (Quyết định Giám đốc thẩm) issued by the Supreme Court in deciding a case; 

To require a lower court to provide explanation as to why it decides differently from a re-hearing decision; and

To require all lower courts to publish their judgments on their websites. 

If all (or even one) of these measures are actually implemented, then it would be a substantial development in the legal system in Vietnam and would make the courts more transparent and relevant.