New sources of law in Vietnam - Court precedents and equity

From 1 January 2017, court precedents and “equity principles” (lẽ công bằng) will be the new sources of laws to govern civil relations in Vietnam. Under the new Civil Code 2015, court precedents and equity principles are now expressly allowed to be used to apply to a civil relation if there is no law or customs governing the same. Court precedents are judgements which are selected and announced by the Supreme Court so that lower courts can study and apply when hearing cases. Under the new Civil Procedure Code 2015, equity principles are determined based on rightful principles which are accepted by the society, and consistent with principle of humanity, principle of impartial and equality in terms of rights and obligations of the parties to a dispute.

First introduced in 2012 in a plan of the Supreme Court, in October 2015, the Supreme Court issued Resolution 3/2015 providing detailed procedures for selection and application of court precedents. However, it is not clear how equity principles will be further clarified and defined given the generality of the definition