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Legal History Of Vietnam

Introduction

The Republic of Vietnam is a long, narrow country on the eastern coast of the Southeast Asia mainland. Roughly the size of Florida, its terrain features are much more diverse.

Vietnam was in control of Chinese for over 1000 years (until 938 AD). Vietnam was then independent until the 19th century when it was colonized by the French. It was then in control by Japan during World War II. In 1945, independence from France was declared and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was born.  In 1946, Vietnam held the first National Assembly election, which adopted its first Constitution.

After that, the French tried to regain power by the force that caused the Vietnam War I (1946-1954). Resulting in the defeat of France in 1954, then the country was divided into the North and the South. The South was named the Republic of Vietnam; while the north, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The intervention of the United States led to Vietnam War II. This war ended in 1975 after a victory by the North and the country was unified.

Legal system:

Vietnam is a one-party state under the control of the Communist Party of Vietnam, which plays a central role in shaping the country’s policy and legal system. The supremacy of the communist party is enshrined in the Constitution since 1975, Vietnam has a single legal unified system. Its legal system is influenced by eastern and western legal traditions, the French civil law system, and Soviet communist legal ideology. Legislation (legal normative documents) is the most important source of law.

Court Hierarchy:

The judicial system of Vietnam comprises the

  • people’s courts
  • military tribunals
  • People’s procuracies.

More precisely, the highest court in the country is the SPC. Under the Supreme People’s Court are three levels of courts: the superior people’s courts of which there are three; the provincial-level people’s courts (63) and district-level people’s courts ( lowest level). The superior courts are appellate courts based in Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City, each responsible for the northern, central, and southern regions of the country, respectively. 

The highest court is the supreme people’s court which is headed by the chief justice of the country, who is appointed by the national assembly of Vietnam.

Timeline:

1946:

  • September 2, 1945, President Ho announced the Independence Declaration
  • November 9, 1946, the first constitution was adopted by the National Assembly
  • Includes 7 chapters, 70 articles

1954: Geneva Agreement has been signed thanks to Dien Bien Phu victory.

1959: Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, adopted on January 1, 1960. It consisted of X chapters, 112 articles

1975: The reunification of North and South Vietnam

1980: Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, adopted on December 19, 1980

Includes XII chapters, 147 articles. The consequence of the policy of economic liberalization “Doi Moi” started in 1986.

April 15, 1992: Constitution of the socialist republic of Vietnam includes XII chapters, 147 articles.

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