Vietnam: row over foreign lawyers picks up pace
The proposals made by local lawyers to protect their interests are currently being considered by the National Assembly, despite a dozen foreign lawyers saying changes may prohibit their local employees from drafting contracts, making it difficult for them to do business, reports the Washington Post.
Frederick Burke, a partner at the Ho Chi Minh City office of US law firm Baker & McKenzie, said if the law passes ‘it would mean that anybody investing or doing business in Vietnam would have to rely on a much smaller group of law firms, none of which have international networks or presence.’
The Australian and European chambers of commerce in Vietnam have also voiced concerns, with the latter’s chairman, Preben Hjortlund, suggesting that making the changes while the economy was faltering would have ‘dire consequences’.
However, Ngo Thanh Tung -- chairman of Ho Chi Minh City-based law firm Vilaf -- said the foreign lawyers were being ‘overly sensitive’.
Open door policy
A group of 18 Vietnamese firms, including Vilaf, YKVN Lawyers, LDV Lawyers and Norton Rose affiliate Vision & Associates, asked for amendments to the country’s lawyers’ law last month.
The group said the ‘open door’ policy had hindered the ‘formation of a healthy and equal legal environment for the development of a force of Vietnamese lawyers who would be dynamic and professional, and who would possess qualifications tantamount to those of the lawyers in the region and in the world’.