Hierarchy of Vietnamese legislation

The law of Vietnam consists of the following main legal instruments, which can be issued by various authorities:

Issuing authorities
Instruments dated from 1 January 2009
The National Assembly
Constitution; Laws and Resolutions
The Standing Committee of the National Assembly
Ordinance; and Resolutions
The President
Order; and Decision
The Government
The Prime Minister
The Supreme Court
The Chief Judge of the Supreme Court
The Procurator-General
Ministries or ministerial level entities
The General State Auditor
Local People’s Committees
Decisions, and Directives
Local People’s Council

In addition to the above legal instruments, more than one issuing authorities can together issue a “joint” legal instrument. Legal instruments issued before 1 January 2009 may be issued in a different form under the old Law on Legal Instruments. Nowadays, Vietnamese copies of legal instruments in Vietnam are regularly published on the Official Gazette of the Government and  widely available on the internet (e.g. luatvietnam.com.vn; legal.khaitri.vn). English copies of certain important legal instruments are also available for a fee on certain websites (the most reliable one being www.vietnamlaws.com).

In general, legal instruments issued by higher authorities will have higher validity. Legal instruments issued by central authorities will be applicable nationwide while legal instruments issued by local authorities will be applicable within the specific localities only.

Usually, the “legal framework” covering a specific area of law includes:
·   a Law issued by the National Assembly setting out the general principles of such area;
·   one or more Decrees issued by the Government, which further clarify and implement the Law issued by the National Assembly; and
·   one or more Circulars issued by the relevant Ministries in charge of the area in question, which provide more detailed implementation of the Decrees issued by the Government.

In practice, the drafting of all of the above legal instruments is controlled by the relevant Ministry in charge of the relevant area. For example, the Ministry of Finance will control the drafting of all legislations regarding capital market such as the Law on Securities, the implementing Decrees and Circulars. In addition, usually the Law issued by the National Assembly can only be expected to be fully implemented in practice after the relevant Ministries issue the detailed implementing Circulars. Therefore, there is usually substantial delay between the time a Law of the National Assembly is issued and the time such Law is fully implemented in practice.