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Commercial Arbitration 2017

Last verified on Tuesday 27th June 2017

Vietnam

K Minh Dang, Do Khoi Nguyen, Ian Fisher and Luan Tran
YKVN LLP

    Infrastructure

  1. 1.The New York Convention
    Is your state a party to the New York Convention? Are there any noteworthy declarations or reservations?
    1. Yes, Vietnam has been a party to the New York Convention since 12 September 1995 and the Convention came into force on 11 December 1995.

      In its accession to the Convention, Vietnam made three declarations pursuant to article I(3) and article X(1) of the Convention:

      Vietnam considers the Convention to be applicable to the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards made only in the territory of another Contracting State. With respect to arbitral awards made in the territories of non-contracting States, it will apply the Convention on the basis of reciprocity.

      The Convention will be applied only to differences arising out of legal relationships which are considered as “commercial” under the laws of Vietnam.

      The Vietnamese Commercial Law No. 36/2005/QH11 dated 31 December 2005 considers activities to be “commercial”, if those activities are “for profit-making purposes comprising the purchase and sale of goods, provision of services, investment, commercial enhancement, and other activities for profit-making purposes”.

      Interpretation of the Convention before the Vietnamese courts or competent authorities should be made in accordance with the Constitution and the law of Vietnam.

  2. 2.Other treaties
    Is your state a party to any other bilateral or multilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards?
    1. There is no published comprehensive list of the bilateral or multilateral treaties to which Vietnam is a party. As far as we are aware of, other than the New York Convention, Vietnam is not party to other multilateral treaties for example, the ICSID Convention.

      However, Vietnam is currently party to 47 bilateral investment treaties (BIT), which all include provisions dealing with dispute settlement and the recognition and binding effect of arbitral awards. Below are sample provisions providing for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards in those bilateral investment treaties:

      (i)             BIT Vietnam - Bulgaria

      Article 9.4 The decision of the arbitral tribunal shall be final and binding on the parties to the dispute and the Contracting Party shall execute the decision in accordance with its national legislation.

      (ii)           BIT Vietnam - China

      Article 8.6. The tribunal shall reach its decision by a majority of votes. Such decision shall be final and binding on both parties to the dispute. Both Contracting States shall commit themselves to the enforcement of the decision in accordance with their respective domestic law.

      (iii)          BIT Vietnam - Greece

      Article 10.4 The arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, the law of the Contracting Party which is party to the dispute, (including its rules on the conflict of laws) and such rules of international law as may be applicable. The awards of arbitration shall be final and binding on both parties to the dispute. Each Contracting Party shall carry out without undue delay any such award and shall provide in its territory for the enforcement of such award.

  3. 3.National law
    Is there an arbitration act or equivalent and, if so, is it based on the UNCITRAL Model Law? Does it apply to all arbitral proceedings with their seat in your jurisdiction?
    1. Arbitral proceedings in Vietnam are governed by the Law on Commercial Arbitration No. 54-2010-QH12 dated 17 June 2010, which came into force on 1 January 2011 (the Law on Commercial Arbitration). The Law on Commercial Arbitration is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law (Model Law) but contains additional or different provisions on:

      • principles in settling disputes;
      • state administration of arbitration;
      • required registration of ad hoc arbitration awards with national courts;
      • minimum qualifications of arbitrators;
      • the right to settle and the right to request mediation by the arbitral tribunal; and
      • setting aside an arbitral award for violating fundamental principles of Vietnamese law (the Vietnamese equivalent concept of "public policy" in the Model Law).

      The Law on Commercial Arbitration applies to all domestic arbitrations. With respect to international arbitration proceedings, it is not clear whether they apply to arbitral proceedings with only their seat in Vietnam and no other connection to the jurisdiction.

  4. 4.Arbitration bodies in your jurisdiction
    What arbitration bodies relevant to international arbitration are based within your jurisdiction? Do such bodies also act as appointing authorities?
    1. We are under the impression that the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) is the most popular and active international arbitration centre in Vietnam.  Other than the VIAC, there are a number of arbitration centres, including the Pacific International Arbitration Centre (PIAC) based in Ho Chi Minh City, and the ASEAN Commercial International Arbitration Centre (ACIAC) based in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However, it is unclear how active they are in international arbitration.

      There are no provisions under the VIAC Rules of Arbitration 2017 dealing with the VIAC acting as the appointing authority. In practice, we have not experienced any cases where the VIAC acted as the appointing authority.

  5. 5.Foreign institutions
    Can foreign arbitral providers operate in your jurisdiction?
    1. Yes, they can. The Law on Commercial Arbitration and its implementing regulations allow foreign arbitration centres to be established in Vietnam. At present, there are no foreign arbitration centres active in Vietnam.

  6. 6.Courts
    Is there a specialist arbitration court? Is the judiciary in your jurisdiction generally familiar with the law and practice of international arbitration?
    1. There is no specialist arbitration court in Vietnam. However, the Supreme People’s Court and the Ministry of Justice have recognised in public fora that enforcement of arbitral awards under the New York Convention has been uneven and inconsistent largely because courts spread throughout the country do not share the same background and experience in respect of such enforcement. Accordingly, there has been active discussion of the need for a specialist court to promote greater uniformity and predictability in adjudication.  

    Agreement to arbitrate

  7. 7.Formalities
    What, if any, requirements must be met if an arbitration agreement is to be valid and enforceable under the law of your jurisdiction? Can an arbitration agreement cover future disputes?
    1. Under the Law on Commercial Arbitration, a valid arbitration agreement must:

      • be in writing;
      • cover a commercial dispute and be arbitrable;
      • be validly executed by a person having legal authority and civil capacity;
      • not have been obtained through deceit or coercion and been declared void on the basis of such deceit or coercion; and
      • not violate Vietnamese law.

      The writing requirement can be satisfied in many forms:

      • an exchange of telegram, fax, telex, email or other form prescribed by law between the parties;  
      • an exchange of correspondence between the parties;
      • an agreement prepared in writing by a lawyer, notary public or competent organisation at the request of the parties;
      • a reference by the parties during the course of a transaction to a document such as a contract, source document, company charter or other similar documents that contain an arbitration agreement; or
      • an exchange of a statement of claim and defence expressing the existence of an agreement proposed by a party and not denied by the other.

      In addition, article 5.1 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that an arbitration agreement can be made either prior to, or after, the dispute arises. 

  8. 8.Arbitrability
    Are any types of dispute non-arbitrable? If so, which?
    1. Under the Civil Proceedings Code, the following disputes are not arbitrable:

      • civil cases related to rights over immoveable property located within the Vietnamese territory;
      • divorce proceedings between a Vietnamese citizen and a foreigner or a stateless person if both spouses are long-term residents of Vietnam; and
      • civil cases where the parties have the right under Vietnamese law or an international treaty of Vietnam to select the jurisdiction of Vietnamese courts and they do so.  
  9. 9.Third parties
    Can a third party be bound by an arbitration clause and, if so, in what circumstances? Can third parties participate in the arbitration process through joinder or a third-party notice?
    1. Under the Law on Commercial Arbitration, there are two situations where an arbitration agreement will be binding upon third parties:

      • if a party to an arbitration agreement is an individual who has died or lost civil capacity, then the heirs or the legal guardian will be bound by that agreement unless specifically provided otherwise; and
      • if a party to an arbitration agreement is a legal entity which ceases to legally exist, then a successor entity that has succeeded to all the rights and obligations of the former will be bound by the agreement unless specifically provided otherwise.

      Vietnamese law does not provide for third parties to participate by joinder or third-party notice. 

  10. 10.Consolidation
    Would an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction be able to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts and, if so, in what circumstances?
    1. Yes, a Vietnamese arbitral tribunal is able to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings. Resolution No. 01/2014/NQ-HDTP dated 20 March 2014 of the Judicial Council of the Supreme People’s Court (in effect an administrative circular of the Supreme Court) provides that separate arbitral proceedings can be consolidated into one proceeding when the parties agree to such consolidation or the applicable arbitration rules allow for such consolidation.

      For example, article 15 of the VIAC Rules of Arbitration 2017 provides that parties may agree to consolidate two or more arbitrations pending under these rules into a single proceeding. The centre will decide on such consolidation based upon all relevant factors.

  11. 11.

    Groups of companies
    Is the "group of companies doctrine" recognised in your jurisdiction?

    1. The group of companies doctrine is not recognised under Vietnamese law. Under certain circumstances specified in the Law on Enterprises, shareholders can be held liable for corporate liabilities. None of these circumstances relates to arbitration. 

  12. 12.Separability
    Are arbitration clauses considered separable from the main contract?
    1. Yes. Article 19 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration expressly provides that “an arbitration agreement shall exist totally independently of the contract. Any modification, extension or rescission of the contract, or invalidity or unenforceability of the contract shall not result in the invalidity of the arbitration agreement.”

  13. 13.Competence-competence
    Is the principle of competence-competence recognised in your jurisdiction? Can a party to an arbitration ask the courts to determine an issue relating to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and competence?
    1. Article 43 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration expressly provides that the arbitral tribunal must consider whether it has jurisdiction prior to dealing with the merits of a dispute.

      A party may only request the Vietnamese courts to review a decision of an arbitral tribunal, whether related to its jurisdiction or not, after the decision is issued, if that party disagrees with it. Pursuant to article 44 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration, if the parties disagree with any decision of the arbitral tribunal, they have the right within five business days from the date of receipt of such decision to petition the competent court to review such decision of the arbitral tribunal. The petitioner must simultaneously notify the arbitral tribunal of the complaint. The competent court will then have to make a decision within 10 business days. The decision of the court shall be final and binding on the parties and the arbitral tribunal. However, the arbitral tribunal shall continue to conduct the proceedings while the court is dealing with the petition.

      The competent court is the provincial court of the city or province where the arbitral tribunal issues the decision on jurisdiction. 

  14. 14.Drafting
    Are there particular issues to note when drafting an arbitration clause where your jurisdiction will be the seat of arbitration or the place where enforcement of an award will be sought?
    1. When drafting an arbitration clause where Vietnam is the seat of arbitration, the following issues should be considered:

      • the Law on Commercial Arbitration will apply as the lex arbitri, therefore, the drafter should be careful in selecting the applicable arbitration rule;
      • the requirement for validity of arbitration agreement under the Law on Commercial Arbitration (see question 7); and
      • the drafter should specify the seat of arbitration and the venue for the hearing.

      When drafting an arbitration clause where Vietnam is the place where enforcement of an arbitral award is sought, the drafter should pay attention to the formality requirement as well as the requirements for validity (see question 7). 

  15. 15.Institutional arbitration
    Is institutional international arbitration more or less common than ad hoc international arbitration? Are the UNCITRAL Rules commonly used in ad hoc international arbitrations in your jurisdiction?
    1. Based on our experience, institutional international arbitration is more common than ad hoc international arbitration in Vietnam. Since ad hoc arbitrations are confidential in nature, it is difficult to conclude whether or not UNCITRAL Rules are commonly used in Vietnamese ad hoc international arbitration. However, in our practice, we see more ad hoc international arbitration using UNCITRAL Rules than other rules. 

  16. 16.Multi-party agreements
    What, if any, are the particular points to note when drafting a multi-party arbitration agreement with your jurisdiction in mind? In relation to, for example, the appointment of arbitrators.
    1. The Law on Commercial Arbitration does not expressly refer to multi-party agreements but contains provisions on the appointment of arbitrators in the case of multiple respondents in an arbitration proceeding. The law provides that the respondents shall agree on the selection of their arbitrator or on a request to appoint an arbitrator within 30 days after the receipt of a statement of claim. If they fail to do so, the chairman of the arbitration centre shall appoint the arbitrator, in case of an institutional arbitration, or the competent court if it is an ad hoc arbitration.

    Commencing the arbitration

  17. 17.Request for arbitration
    How are arbitral proceedings commenced in your jurisdiction? Are there any key provisions under the arbitration laws of your jurisdiction relating to limitation periods of which the parties should be aware?
    1. In Vietnam, an institutional arbitration is initiated by the sending of the claimant’s statement of claim to the arbitration centre, and the proceedings are deemed to have commenced when the respondent receives the statement of claim. In the same way, an ad hoc arbitration is initiated by sending of the claimant’s statement to the respondent, and the proceedings are deemed to have commenced when the respondent receives the statement of claim.

      Under article 33 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration, arbitration proceedings must be initiated within two years from the date of infringement of a party’s legal rights and interest, unless otherwise stipulated by a specific law. There is no guidance in the Law on Commercial Arbitration on how to determine the date of infringement. However, there is guidance in Resolution No. 03/2012/NQ-HDTP of the Judicial Council of the People’s Supreme Court of Vietnam dated 3 December 2012 that provides helpful rules to make such determination. 

    Choice of law

  18. 18.Choice of law
    How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
    1. The Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that, for domestic disputes, i.e. disputes without a foreign element, the arbitral tribunal shall apply Vietnamese law to resolve the dispute. For disputes with a foreign element, the arbitral tribunal shall apply the law chosen by the parties. If, however, the parties have not chosen such law, the arbitral tribunal will apply the law that it considers to be the most appropriate. Finally, if Vietnamese law or the law chosen by the parties does not contain specific provisions relevant to the matters in dispute, then the arbitral tribunal may apply international customs to resolve the dispute if such application, or the consequences of such application, are not contrary to the fundamental principles of the law of Vietnam.

      The reservation relating to fundamental principles of the law of Vietnam appears often in Vietnamese statutes and regulations. They do not refer to a specific or identified set of principles. Instead, it should be understood in the same manner as the expression “void as against the public policy of the forum”, which also does not refer to a specific or identified set of public policies.

    Appointing the tribunal

  19. 19.Choice of arbitrators
    Does the law of your jurisdiction place any limitations in respect of a party’s choice of arbitrator?
    1. Yes, the Law on Commercial Arbitration imposes minimum qualifications on arbitrators, which are:

      • full civil legal capacity as prescribed in the Vietnamese Civil Code;
      • a university qualification and at least five years of work experience in the discipline which he or she studied; and
      • in special cases, an expert with highly specialised qualifications and considerable practical experience may still be selected as an arbitrator notwithstanding that he or she fails to satisfy the requirements above.

      However, if a person has all the qualifications above but falls within one of the following categories, he or she may not act as arbitrator:

      • a judge, prosecutor, investigator, enforcement officer or official of a people’s court, of a people’s procuracy, of an investigative agency or of a judgment enforcement agency; or
      • a person who is currently prosecuted, or a person who is serving a criminal sentence or who has fully served his or her sentence but his or her criminal record has not been cleared yet.  

      It is worth noting that an arbitration centre may require higher qualifications than the above.

  20. 20.Foreign arbitrators
    Can non-nationals act as arbitrators where the seat is in your jurisdiction or hearings are held there? Is this subject to any immigration or other requirements?
    1. Yes, non-nationals can act as arbitrators in Vietnam as long as they meet the qualifications set out under question 19.

      Yes, they are subject to the usual immigration requirements as any person doing business in Vietnam.

  21. 21.Default appointment of arbitrators
    How are arbitrators appointed where no nomination is made by a party or parties or the selection mechanism fails for any reason? Do the courts have any role to play?
    1. With respect to institutional arbitrations with a panel of three arbitrators, the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that if the respondent fails to nominate its arbitrator or request the chairman of the arbitration centre to appoint an arbitrator on its behalf within 30 days from the date of receipt of the claimant’s statement of claim, the chairman of the arbitration centre shall appoint an arbitrator for that respondent within seven days after the 30-day period expires. The Law on Commercial Arbitration further provides that if, the arbitrators appointed by the parties fail to appoint the chairman of the arbitral tribunal within 15 days from the date of their appointment, the chairman of the arbitration centre shall appoint such chairman within seven days after the 15-day period expires. In case of an arbitration with a sole arbitrator, if the parties fail to agree on its selection within 30 days from the date on which the respondent receives the statement of claim, the chairman of the arbitration centre shall appoint the sole arbitrator within 15 days from the date of receipt of a request to do so by one or all the parties.

      With respect to ad hoc arbitrations with a panel of three arbitrators, the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that if the respondent fails to nominate its arbitrator within 30 days from the date of receipt of the claimant’s statement of claim, the claimant has the right to request the competent court to appoint an arbitrator for the respondent. The Law on Commercial Arbitration further provides that if, the arbitrators appointed by the parties fail to appoint the chairman of the arbitral tribunal within 15 days from the date of their appointment, the parties have the right to request the competent court to appoint such chairman. In case of an arbitration with a sole arbitrator, if the parties fail to agree on its selection within 30 days from the date on which the respondent receives the statement of claim and the parties have not an agreement to request an arbitration centre to appoint an arbitrator, the competent court shall appoint the sole arbitrator within 15 days from the date of receipt of a request to do so by one or all the parties.

  22. 22.Immunity
    Are arbitrators afforded immunity from suit under the law of your jurisdiction and, if so, in what terms?
    1. No, arbitrators are not afforded immunity from suit under Vietnamese law. For example, the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that “if an arbitration tribunal orders a different form of interim relief or interim relief which exceeds the scope of the application by the applicant, thereby causing loss to the applicant, or to the Party against whom the interim relief was applied or to a third Party, then the Party incurring loss shall have the right to institute court Proceedings for compensation in accordance with the law on civil Proceedings.”

  23. 23.Securing payment of fees
    Can arbitrators secure payment of their fees in your jurisdiction? Are there fundholding services provided by relevant institutions?
    1. There are no specific provisions under Vietnamese law that would enable arbitrators to secure payment of their fees. The VIAC Rules of Arbitration 2017 do include provisions whereby the parties are to pay in full expenses for remuneration of arbitrators and the centre’s administrative expenses when submitting their request for arbitration or counterclaim. Failure to provide such payment would result in the withdrawal of the request for arbitration or the counterclaim respectively. Therefore, it can be considered that the VIAC provides fundholding services.

      The above referenced expenses of the arbitrators and the VIAC are calculated by reference to the amount in dispute.

    Challenges to arbitrators

  24. 24.Grounds of challenge
    On what grounds may a party challenge an arbitrator? How are challenges dealt with in the courts or (as applicable) the main arbitration institutions in your jurisdiction? Will the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?
    1. The Law on Commercial Arbitration provides for four specific circumstances under which an arbitrator must refuse to hear a dispute, and accordingly, the parties have the right to request the replacement of an arbitrator:

      • The arbitrator is a relative or the representative of a party;
      • The arbitrator has an interest related to the dispute;
      • There are clear grounds for considering that the arbitrator is not impartial or objective; and
      • The arbitrator was a mediator, representative or lawyer for either of the parties prior to the dispute being brought to arbitration for resolution, unless the parties provide written consent.

      In case of institutional arbitrations, for example, a VIAC arbitration, then the procedure to replace an arbitrator shall be as follows:

      • prior to the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, the chairman of the arbitral institution (for example, the president of the VIAC) will decide on the replacement of the arbitrator;
      • after the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, the remaining members of such tribunal shall take the decision. If these members are unable to make such decision, the chairman of the arbitral institution (for example, the president of the VIAC) will decide on the replacement of the arbitrator(s);
      • after the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, if all the members or the sole arbitrator refuse to resolve the dispute, the chairman of the arbitral institution (for example, the president of the VIAC) will decide on the replacement of the arbitrator(s).

      In case of ad hoc arbitrations, then the procedure to replace an arbitrator shall be as follows:

      • prior to the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, the Law on Commercial Arbitration is silent on the procedure to replace an arbitrator;
      • after the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, the remaining members of such tribunal shall take the decision. If these members are unable to make such decision, the competent court shall decide on the replacement of the arbitrator(s);
      • after the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, if all the members or the sole arbitrator refuse to resolve the dispute, the competent court shall decide on the replacement of the arbitrator(s).

      Under the Law on Commercial Arbitration, the decision taken by the chairman of the arbitration centre or the competent court on the replacement of the arbitrator(s), shall be final.

      The IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration are not generally taken into account, unless the parties agree to refer to them in their arbitration agreement. Based on our understanding, the VIAC has issued a Code of Ethics for an Arbitrator of which provisions refer to and adopt some parts of the IBA Rules on Ethics for International Arbitrators and the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration. 

    Interim relief

  25. 25.

    Types of relief
    What main types of interim relief are available in respect of international arbitration and from whom (the tribunal or the courts)? Are anti-suit injunctions available where proceedings are brought elsewhere in breach of an arbitration agreement?

    1. Both the tribunal and the court have the power to grant interim relief pursuant to article 48.1 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration. Pursuant to article 49.2 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration, the tribunal may grant the following interim reliefs:

      • prohibition of any change in the status quo of the assets in dispute;
      • prohibition of acts by, or ordering one or more specific acts to be taken by a party in dispute, aimed at preventing conduct adverse to the process of the arbitration proceedings;
      • attachment of the assets in dispute;
      • requirement of preservation, storage, sale or disposal of any of the assets of one or all parties in dispute;
      • requirement of a provisional payment of money between the parties; and
      • prohibition of transfer of asset rights of the assets in dispute.

      The courts have a broader power than a tribunal with respect to interim reliefs. In addition to the interim reliefs which a tribunal may grant, the court may grant the following reliefs relating to commercial disputes pursuant to article 114 of Civil Proceedings Code No. 92/2015/QH13 passed by the National Assembly on 25 November 2015, fully effective since 1 January 2017:

      • freezing bank accounts at banks, other credit institutions, the state’s treasury, freezing assets under other parties’ detention;
      • freezing assets of the obligated parties;
      • prohibiting the obligated party from leaving the country;
      • detaining vessels, aircrafts to ensure the resolution of a dispute; and
      • prohibiting acts by, or ordering one or more specific acts to be taken by, a party in dispute.

      Other than the above reliefs, there are other interim reliefs available to the court but those are only relevant to non-contractual or labour disputes.

      Anti-suit injunctions are not available under Vietnamese law.

  26. 26.Security for costs
    Does the law of your jurisdiction allow a court or tribunal to order a party to provide security for costs?
    1. Security for costs does not exist under Vietnamese law. On the other hand, the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides for the “loser pays” rule, however, the arbitration costs payable by the loser only comprise of remuneration of the arbitrators, costs for consulting experts required by the tribunal, administrative fees of the arbitration centre, fees for appointment of arbitrator by the arbitration centre, and fees for use of other facilities or services provided by the arbitration centre, but does not include the legal fees of the winner pursuant to article 34 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration. 

      Although security for costs is not available under Vietnamese law, the winner may have securities for its costs in the arbitration if it applies for interim relief in the arbitration. Pursuant to article 47 of Law on Enforcement of Civil Judgment No. 26/2008/QH12 passed by the National Assembly on 14 November 2008, effective from 1 July 2009, as amended by Law No. 64/2014/QH13 passed by the National Assembly on 25 November 2014, effective from 1 July 2015, in the award enforcement process, the enforcement agency will deduct from the recovered amount its enforcement costs, the arbitration costs and then the amount awarded to the winner.  Therefore, if the court has applied an interim relief to the loser, such as freezing bank accounts or assets of the loser to secure the enforcement of the arbitral award, the enforcement agency will deduct its enforcement costs and the arbitration costs before paying the winner.

    Procedure

  27. 27.

    Procedural rules
    Are there any mandatory rules in your jurisdiction that govern the conduct of the arbitration (eg, general duties of the tribunal and/or the parties)?

    1. Article 4 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration sets out the following principles governing the conduct of the arbitration:

      • Arbitrators must respect the agreement between the parties if it does not breach prohibitions and is not contrary to social morals.
      • Arbitrators must be independent, objective and impartial, and must comply with provisions of law.
      • Parties in dispute shall have equal rights and obligations. The tribunal shall be responsible to facilitate the parties to exercise their rights and to discharge their obligations.
      • Dispute resolution by arbitration shall be conducted in private, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
      • An award shall be final.
  28. 28.Refusal to participate
    What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration?
    1. Vietnamese law does not have a concept of default judgment.  In a case where the respondent fails to reply to the notice of arbitration, the arbitration still goes on and the tribunal will review the case and issue an award based upon whichever documents and evidence are available to them pursuant to article 35.5 and article 56 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration. 

  29. 29.

    Admissible evidence
    What types of evidence are usually admitted, and how is evidence usually taken? Will the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?

    1. Vietnamese law does not list out what types of evidence are admitted in arbitration or litigation proceedings. The IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Commercial Arbitration is not recognised in the Law on Commercial Arbitration or the arbitration rules of the leading arbitration centres in Vietnam. 

      A general rule in arbitration or ligation proceedings in Vietnam is that the parties to an arbitration or litigation proceedings have the rights and also obligations to provide evidence to support their claims and arguments. In addition to the evidence provided by the parties, the tribunal may, on its own initiative or at the request of a party, request for evidence from the witness or consult opinions from professional experts or seek an assessment or valuation of the assets in dispute.  

  30. 30.Court assistance
    Will the courts in your jurisdiction play any role in the obtaining of evidence?
    1. Yes, article 46 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration allows the tribunal to seek the assistance from the court to obtain evidence from any individuals, organisations in possession of evidence, if the tribunal or the parties could not obtain the evidence from them. The tribunal may also seek the assistance of the court in summoning witnesses to give oral evidence pursuant to article 47 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration. 

  31. 31.Document production
    What is the relevant law and prevailing practice relating to document production in international arbitration in your jurisdiction?
    1. Article 46 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration requires parties to produce documentary evidence in support of their claims and defences. The Law on Commercial Arbitration allows the tribunal to request documentary evidence from witnesses, opinions from professional experts, appraisers or valuers.

      Vietnamese law is silent on whether the parties to an arbitration have the right to request documents from the other parties. In practice, in our experience we have been involved in a substantial arbitration case before VIAC where the tribunal allowed the parties to request documents from each other during document production stage. 

  32. 32.Hearings
    Is it mandatory to have a final hearing on the merits?
    1. The Law on Commercial Arbitration does not have an explicit provision on the requirement for a hearing on the merits. However, article 56.3 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that based upon the request of the parties, the tribunal may hold a hearing on the merits without the participation of the parties. Even in expedited procedures as provided for under article 37 of the 2017 Arbitration Rule of the VIAC, effective since 1 March 2017, the tribunal must hold a hearing to resolve a case without the participation of the parties. Therefore, it appears that the tribunal must hold a hearing on the merits in any event. 

  33. 33.

    Seat or place of arbitration
    If your jurisdiction is selected as the seat of arbitration, may hearings and procedural meetings be conducted elsewhere?

    1. Yes, article 54.1 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration allows the tribunal to decide on the place of the hearings or procedural meetings if the parties do not agree otherwise or the arbitration rule of an arbitration centre does not provide otherwise. There is no express restriction on where such hearings or meetings can take place. In practice, we have experience an arbitration under the arbitration rule of Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) where the tribunal decided to hold a meeting outside of Vietnam. 

    Award

  34. 34.Majority decisions
    Can the tribunal decide by majority?
    1. Pursuant to article 60 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration, the tribunal must decide by majority. Article 60 also provides that in case of lack of majority, the award will be made in accordance with the opinion of the presiding arbitrator. However, this provision is unlikely to be applicable in practice as article 40.2 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration seems to suggest that a tribunal may comprise of one sole arbitrator or three arbitrators, since it provides that if there are multiple respondents, the respondents must agree to appoint an arbitrator. Therefore, there is unlikely to be a situation when a three-member tribunal would not have a majority. 

  35. 35.Limitations to awards and relief
    Are there any particular types of remedies or relief that an arbitral tribunal may not grant?
    1. There is no express prohibition on the type of remedies that an arbitral tribunal can grant. The arbitral tribunal is free to grant any kind of final remedy or relief available under substantive law, as long as it does not contradict Vietnamese law, since it is a ground to set aside an award.

      With respect to interim reliefs, the reliefs under the competence of the tribunal is less than which under the competence of the courts, since the courts have competence to grant reliefs in relation to non-contractual and labour dispute. In addition, the courts have the sole competence to grant interim relief to secure the enforcement of an award. 

  36. 36.Dissenting arbitrators
    Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction? If so, are they common in practice?
    1. Dissenting opinions are permitted under Vietnamese law. Article 61 of Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that when an arbitrator refuses to sign the arbitral award, the presiding arbitrator must record such fact in the award and state the reason that the dissenting arbitrator refuses to sign.

      It is difficult to say whether dissenting opinions are common in practice or not. We have recently been involved in a case where a tribunal’s decision on interim relief included a dissenting opinion from one of the arbitrators.

  37. 37.Formalities
    What, if any, are the legal and formal requirements for a valid and enforceable award?
    1. Article 61 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration requires that an award must be made in writing and should include the following contents:

      • date and place of issuance of the award;
      • names and addresses of the claimant and the respondent;
      • name(s) and address(es) of the arbitrator(s);
      • summary of the notice of arbitration and the disputing issues:
      • grounds for the award, unless otherwise agreed by the parties;
      • the resolution of the dispute;
      • period for implementing the award;
      • allocation of arbitration fees and other fees; and
      • signature(s) if the arbitrator(s). 
  38. 38.Time frames
    What time limits, if any, should parties be aware of in respect of an award? In particular, do any time limits govern the interpretation and correction of an award?
    1. Pursuant to article 63 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration, within 30 days upon receipt of an award, either parties may request the tribunal to correct any typos in the award or to interpret any points of the award, provided that it must inform the other party. If the tribunal considers such request reasonable, the tribunal has 30 days upon receipt of the request to correct or interpret its award. 

    Costs and interest

  39. 39.

    Costs
    Are parties able to recover fees paid and costs incurred? Does the "loser pays" rule generally apply in your jurisdiction?

    1. The “loser pays” rule applies under Vietnamese law. Article 34.3 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that the loser shall bear arbitration costs, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, or provided under the arbitration rule of an arbitration centre, or allocated by the tribunal. It would note that arbitration costs pursuant to article 33.1 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration comprise of remuneration of the arbitrators, costs for consulting experts required by the tribunal, administrative fees of the arbitration centre, fees for appointment of arbitrator by the arbitration centre, and fees for use of other facilities or services provided by the arbitration centre, but does not include the legal fees of the winner.

  40. 40.Interest on the award
    Can interest be included on the principal claim and costs? Is there any mandatory or customary rate?
    1. The Vietnamese Law on Commercial Arbitration is silent on whether interest would be awarded on the principle claim or costs. In litigation proceedings, there is guidance from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme People’s Prosecutor and the Supreme People’s Court since 1997, which provides for a principle that the court must provide in its judgment that interest must be included on the principal claim and costs to prevent any delays in the enforcement of the judgment by the loser. We believe that in its award, the tribunal should take the same action as the court. 

      Pursuant to article 357 and article 468 of Civil Code No. 91/2015/QH13 passed by the National Assembly on 24 November 2015, effective since 1 July 2017, the applicable rate for interest due to delay in performing payment obligations is 10 per cent per annum. 

    Challenging awards

  41. 41.Grounds for appeal
    Are there any grounds on which an award may be appealed before the courts of your jurisdiction?
    1. Pursuant to article 68 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration, either party may request the court to set aside an award under either of the following grounds:

      (i)             There is no arbitration agreement or the arbitration agreement is invalid;

      (ii)           The composition of the tribunal, the procedures of the arbitration do not comply with the agreement of the parties or the Law on Commercial Arbitration;

      (iii)          The dispute is not under the jurisdiction of the tribunal, if any contents of the dispute are not under the jurisdiction of the tribunal, such contents shall be reversed;

      (iv)          The evidence supplied by the parties on which the arbitration tribunal relied to issue the award was forged; [or] an arbitrator received money, assets or some other material benefit from one of the parties in dispute which affected the objectivity and impartiality of the arbitral award;

      (v)           The arbitral award is contrary to the fundamental principles of Vietnamese law.

      It would note that there is no explicit provision on what are the fundamental principles of Vietnamese law. Therefore, in practice, the parties and the court usually seek to rely upon ground (v) above to appeal or set aside an award. 

      Article 68 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration further requires the parties to prove that the tribunal award falls within either of the grounds from (i) to (iv). With respect to ground (v), the court is responsible to verify and collect evidence to decide whether to set aside an award or not. 

  42. 42.Other grounds for challenge
    Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so what?
    1. No, the parties to an arbitration can only appeal an award on the basis of one of the grounds discussed in question 41.  

  43. 43.Modifying an award
    Is it open to the parties to exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
    1. It appears that Vietnamese law does not allow the parties to agree to exclude the right to appeal an award since article 68.1 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration provides that the court will consider setting aside an award if either of the parties requests without allowing them to agree otherwise.  

    Enforcement in your jurisdiction

  44. 44.Enforcement of set-aside awards
    Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
    1. With respect to domestic arbitrations, when requesting the enforcement of an award, the enforcement agency will request the party requesting for enforcement to seek for a confirmation from the competent court that the award has not been set aside. 

      With respect to foreign arbitration awards, pursuant to article 459 of Civil Proceedings Code No. 92/2015/QH13 passed by the National Assembly on 25 November 2015, fully effective since 1 January 2017, a ground for not recognising the enforcement of a foreign arbitration award in Vietnam is that the award has been set aside by a court in the seat of arbitration. Therefore, there would be no chance that an award that has been set aside by a court in the seat of arbitration will be enforced in Vietnam.  

  45. 45.Trends
    What trends, if any, are suggested by recent enforcement decisions? What is the prevailing approach of the courts in this regard?
    1. While there are several articles mentioning some statistics on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards in Vietnam in the past 10 years, those statistics are not conclusive owing to the lack of publicly available reports from reliable sources. However, in our practice, we recognise a trend towards more pro-recognition and enforcement in the recent years.

      In our understanding, there are two approaches towards the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards in Vietnam:

      • the courts of major cities or of higher level such as the Supreme Court, tend to place a higher burden of proof on the party who resists the recognition and enforcement of the award; and
      • the courts of district levels tend to be more strict and technical towards such the recognition and enforcement of the awards.

      The parties should note that the prospect of getting a foreign arbitration award recognised and enforced in Vietnam is to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  46. 46.State immunity
    To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
    1. As mentioned in question 41, one ground for the Vietnamese courts to set aside an award or to refuse to recognise for enforcement of a foreign arbitration award in Vietnam that is the award, or the enforcement of the foreign arbitration award, contradicts with “the fundamental principles of Vietnamese law”. Those fundamental principles of Vietnamese law (ie, public policy) are broad, undefined, and have historically been the main basis by which a party was able to successfully prevent the Vietnamese court from recognising for enforcement a foreign arbitration award.  

    Further considerations

  47. 47.Confidentiality
    To what extent are arbitral proceedings in your jurisdiction confidential?
    1. A general rule of arbitration under article 4.4 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration is that arbitration is confidential unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Article 55 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration also provides that the hearing shall be conducted in private unless otherwise agreed by the parties. The tribunal can only allow other persons to participate in the hearing if the parties agree.  

  48. 48.Evidence and pleadings
    What is the position relating to evidence produced and pleadings filed in the arbitration? Are these confidential? Is there any way that they might be relied on in other proceedings (whether arbitral or court proceedings)?
    1. Vietnamese law is silent on the conduct of the parties with respect to evidence produced and pleadings filed in the arbitration. Article 68 of the Law on Commercial Arbitration requires the party requesting for the setting aside of an award bear the burden of proof with respect to their claims before the court. The review of a claim for setting aside an award by the court is not confidential, therefore, in such case, the party claiming for setting aside an award may disclose the evidence and pleadings in the arbitration to the court. 

  49. 49.Ethical codes
    What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?
    1. In Vietnam, Vietnamese lawyers are subject to the Ethical Rules and Professional Conducts of Vietnamese Lawyers issued by the Vietnam Bar Federation. Two prominent arbitration centres in Vietnam, which are VIAC and PIAC, provide for rules for their arbitrators to ensure the impartiality and objective of their arbitrators. 

  50. 50.Procedural expectations
    Are there any particular procedural expectations or assumptions of which counsel or arbitrators participating in an international arbitration with its seat in your jurisdiction should be aware?
    1. Vietnamese law does not provide for the procedures of an arbitration. The procedural issues may be at the sole discretion of the tribunal. In practice, we have experienced an arbitration under the VIAC Rules of Arbitration where the tribunal issued an order on procedural issues based on the agreement between the parties. 

  51. 51.

    Third-party funding
    Is third-party funding permitted in your jurisdiction?

    1. No, Vietnamese law is silent on third-party funding in arbitration.

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GAR know-how provides reliable cross-jurisdictional insight to help cement the building blocks of international practice. In this section, select experienced practitioners answer commonly asked questions for key jurisdictions so allowing readers to be better-placed to solve the challenges of their working days.

Questions

    Infrastructure

  1. 1.The New York Convention
    Is your state a party to the New York Convention? Are there any noteworthy declarations or reservations?
  2. 2.Other treaties
    Is your state a party to any other bilateral or multilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards?
  3. 3.National law
    Is there an arbitration act or equivalent and, if so, is it based on the UNCITRAL Model Law? Does it apply to all arbitral proceedings with their seat in your jurisdiction?
  4. 4.Arbitration bodies in your jurisdiction
    What arbitration bodies relevant to international arbitration are based within your jurisdiction? Do such bodies also act as appointing authorities?
  5. 5.Foreign institutions
    Can foreign arbitral providers operate in your jurisdiction?
  6. 6.Courts
    Is there a specialist arbitration court? Is the judiciary in your jurisdiction generally familiar with the law and practice of international arbitration?
  7. Agreement to arbitrate

  8. 7.Formalities
    What, if any, requirements must be met if an arbitration agreement is to be valid and enforceable under the law of your jurisdiction? Can an arbitration agreement cover future disputes?
  9. 8.Arbitrability
    Are any types of dispute non-arbitrable? If so, which?
  10. 9.Third parties
    Can a third party be bound by an arbitration clause and, if so, in what circumstances? Can third parties participate in the arbitration process through joinder or a third-party notice?
  11. 10.Consolidation
    Would an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction be able to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts and, if so, in what circumstances?
  12. 11.

    Groups of companies
    Is the "group of companies doctrine" recognised in your jurisdiction?


  13. 12.Separability
    Are arbitration clauses considered separable from the main contract?
  14. 13.Competence-competence
    Is the principle of competence-competence recognised in your jurisdiction? Can a party to an arbitration ask the courts to determine an issue relating to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and competence?
  15. 14.Drafting
    Are there particular issues to note when drafting an arbitration clause where your jurisdiction will be the seat of arbitration or the place where enforcement of an award will be sought?
  16. 15.Institutional arbitration
    Is institutional international arbitration more or less common than ad hoc international arbitration? Are the UNCITRAL Rules commonly used in ad hoc international arbitrations in your jurisdiction?
  17. 16.Multi-party agreements
    What, if any, are the particular points to note when drafting a multi-party arbitration agreement with your jurisdiction in mind? In relation to, for example, the appointment of arbitrators.
  18. Commencing the arbitration

  19. 17.Request for arbitration
    How are arbitral proceedings commenced in your jurisdiction? Are there any key provisions under the arbitration laws of your jurisdiction relating to limitation periods of which the parties should be aware?
  20. Choice of law

  21. 18.Choice of law
    How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
  22. Appointing the tribunal

  23. 19.Choice of arbitrators
    Does the law of your jurisdiction place any limitations in respect of a party’s choice of arbitrator?
  24. 20.Foreign arbitrators
    Can non-nationals act as arbitrators where the seat is in your jurisdiction or hearings are held there? Is this subject to any immigration or other requirements?
  25. 21.Default appointment of arbitrators
    How are arbitrators appointed where no nomination is made by a party or parties or the selection mechanism fails for any reason? Do the courts have any role to play?
  26. 22.Immunity
    Are arbitrators afforded immunity from suit under the law of your jurisdiction and, if so, in what terms?
  27. 23.Securing payment of fees
    Can arbitrators secure payment of their fees in your jurisdiction? Are there fundholding services provided by relevant institutions?
  28. Challenges to arbitrators

  29. 24.Grounds of challenge
    On what grounds may a party challenge an arbitrator? How are challenges dealt with in the courts or (as applicable) the main arbitration institutions in your jurisdiction? Will the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?
  30. Interim relief

  31. 25.

    Types of relief
    What main types of interim relief are available in respect of international arbitration and from whom (the tribunal or the courts)? Are anti-suit injunctions available where proceedings are brought elsewhere in breach of an arbitration agreement?


  32. 26.Security for costs
    Does the law of your jurisdiction allow a court or tribunal to order a party to provide security for costs?
  33. Procedure

  34. 27.

    Procedural rules
    Are there any mandatory rules in your jurisdiction that govern the conduct of the arbitration (eg, general duties of the tribunal and/or the parties)?


  35. 28.Refusal to participate
    What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration?
  36. 29.

    Admissible evidence
    What types of evidence are usually admitted, and how is evidence usually taken? Will the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?


  37. 30.Court assistance
    Will the courts in your jurisdiction play any role in the obtaining of evidence?
  38. 31.Document production
    What is the relevant law and prevailing practice relating to document production in international arbitration in your jurisdiction?
  39. 32.Hearings
    Is it mandatory to have a final hearing on the merits?
  40. 33.

    Seat or place of arbitration
    If your jurisdiction is selected as the seat of arbitration, may hearings and procedural meetings be conducted elsewhere?


  41. Award

  42. 34.Majority decisions
    Can the tribunal decide by majority?
  43. 35.Limitations to awards and relief
    Are there any particular types of remedies or relief that an arbitral tribunal may not grant?
  44. 36.Dissenting arbitrators
    Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction? If so, are they common in practice?
  45. 37.Formalities
    What, if any, are the legal and formal requirements for a valid and enforceable award?
  46. 38.Time frames
    What time limits, if any, should parties be aware of in respect of an award? In particular, do any time limits govern the interpretation and correction of an award?
  47. Costs and interest

  48. 39.

    Costs
    Are parties able to recover fees paid and costs incurred? Does the "loser pays" rule generally apply in your jurisdiction?


  49. 40.Interest on the award
    Can interest be included on the principal claim and costs? Is there any mandatory or customary rate?
  50. Challenging awards

  51. 41.Grounds for appeal
    Are there any grounds on which an award may be appealed before the courts of your jurisdiction?
  52. 42.Other grounds for challenge
    Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so what?
  53. 43.Modifying an award
    Is it open to the parties to exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
  54. Enforcement in your jurisdiction

  55. 44.Enforcement of set-aside awards
    Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
  56. 45.Trends
    What trends, if any, are suggested by recent enforcement decisions? What is the prevailing approach of the courts in this regard?
  57. 46.State immunity
    To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
  58. Further considerations

  59. 47.Confidentiality
    To what extent are arbitral proceedings in your jurisdiction confidential?
  60. 48.Evidence and pleadings
    What is the position relating to evidence produced and pleadings filed in the arbitration? Are these confidential? Is there any way that they might be relied on in other proceedings (whether arbitral or court proceedings)?
  61. 49.Ethical codes
    What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?
  62. 50.Procedural expectations
    Are there any particular procedural expectations or assumptions of which counsel or arbitrators participating in an international arbitration with its seat in your jurisdiction should be aware?
  63. 51.

    Third-party funding
    Is third-party funding permitted in your jurisdiction?