Thousands of legal documents issued within the last year in Vietnam have been found to be unlawful in one aspect or another, according to a report of the Ministry of Justice. The ministry accepts that the system of agencies empowered to issue legal documents is ‘very complicated.’
On the increase
The report states that issuing and using the unlawful documents have serious consequences affecting the consistency, uniformity and feasibility of the legal system and in turn reducing the efficacy and effectiveness of the state. The report states that ‘this situation exerts a great impact on the economic development and business investment environment.’ The absence of a mechanism for determining damage caused by unlawful documents, as well as for specifying responsibilities of issuing agencies, is adding to the problem. The Ministry of Justice lists several reasons for the large number of unlawful documents, including insufficient staffing levels and lack of data serving examination work. The report states unlawful documents are on the increase and that in 2017 out of over 40,000 documents reviewed, 5,639 were found to be unlawful. Of these, 1,236 legal documents were issued ultra vires or had unlawful contents, 3,829 were issued based on improper legal grounds or improperly presented, and 574 are non-legal documents containing legal norms.
To address the situation, the Ministry of Justice has proposed several solutions. Firstly, ministries, sectors and localities would have to strictly control and examine legal documents under their management, particularly documents directly affecting people, enterprises and the investment and business environment; documents containing implementing regulations; and documents stirring public concerns. Secondly, competent agencies should keep a close eye on the handling of lawful documents, especially those infringing upon lawful rights and interests of organizations and individuals. Heads of agencies and units in charge of drafting and appraisal of documents would be held responsible in case these documents are found to be unconstitutional and unlawful or inconsistent with other documents. Finally, responsibilities of each involved agency, unit or individual should be specified.