Legal System
The current legal system is similar to civil law jurisdictions in that its sources of law comprise only written legislation commonly referred to as legal instruments. These are laws and regulations enacted by state bodies which are binding on citizens and enforceable by the state. Court judgments are not officially considered a source of law as judges do not have the power to interpret the law and court judgments are not binding in subsequent cases.

The legal system is organized in a hierarchy in which higher-ranking legal instruments set out general rules and lower-ranking legal instruments provide the details. The Constitution stands at the top of this legal hierarchy and forms the foundation of the entire legal system. Under the Constitution are laws, ordinances, decrees, decisions, circulars and other subordinate legal documents dealing with different aspects of social life. 
  • Constitution and laws are passed by the National Assembly and are the highest form of legal direction in Vietnam;
  • Ordinances and resolutions are issued by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly when the National Assembly is not in session;
  • Decrees are adopted by the Government on the implementation of laws and ordinances;
  • Decisions are issued by the Prime Minister on the implementation of regulations; and 
  • Circulars and Joint Circulars are issued by ministries and provide guidance for implementation of decrees.

Related Chapters

Introduction to Vietnam

Dispute Resolution  

Selected Sector Regulations

Intellectual Property  


Labour Law

Land and Housing

Capital Markets

Banking and Finance

Regulatory Framework


The Government

Economy of Vietnam

Culture and religion in Vietnam

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