Vietnamese System of Legal Documents

Legal documents

Taking into account one issue in Vietnam that refers to legal document, one might be confused when encountering phrases such as: law, resolution, decree, order, decision, circular…

These phrases appear in regulation documents such as: Law on Enterprises No.60/2005/QH11 on 29 November 2005, Decree No.88/2006/ND-CP on 29 August 2006 on Business registration, Decision No.10/2007/QD-BTM on 21 May 2007 announcing the schedule of implementation of trading and distribution activities

So what are law, constitution, resolution, decree, order, decision, circular? What are the differences between them and purpose of each one?

Here are some identifications:

1. Law

Laws are issued by National Assembly to address fundamental issues in the following fields: economics, society, national defense and security, finance, money, budget, tax, ethnicity, religion, culture, education, health, science and technology, environment, external relations, organization and functioning of the state apparatus, civil service, public officials and civil servants, rights and obligations of citizens.

2. Resolution

Resolutions are issued by: The National Assembly or The Standing Committee of the National Assembly.

  • Resolutions of the National Assembly shall reflect its decisions on the following issues: socio-economic development tasks; state budget plans and central budget allocations; state budget adjustments; approval of state budget balance sheets; working regimes of the National Assembly as well as of its Standing Committee, Ethnic Council, other Committees and Deputies; ratification of international treaties; and decisions on other issues within the authority of the National Assembly.
  • Resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly shall aim to interpret the Constitution, laws and ordinances; guide the operations of People’s Councils; decide to announce war and issue national or local appeals for resource mobilization; declare national or local emergencies; and decide on other issues within the authority of the Standing Committee.

3. Decree

Decrees are issued by the Government to:

  1. Provide detailed guidelines on the implementation of laws and resolutions of the National Assembly, ordinances and resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, orders and decisions of the State President;
  2. Provide specific actions to implement policies in the following fields: economics, society, national defense and security, finance, money, budget, tax, ethnicity, religion, culture, education, health, science and technology, environment, external relations, organization and functioning of the state apparatus, civil service, public officials and civil servants, rights and obligations of citizens and other issues within the Government’s management and administration authority;
  3. Specify tasks, authority and organizational structures of Ministries and Ministry-equivalent Agencies, Government-affiliated Agencies and other agencies within the authority of the Government;
  4. Identify other important issues which are not mature enough to be developed into laws or ordinances to meet governance and socio-economic management requirements. The issuance of decrees shall be subject to agreement by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly.

4. Circular

Circulars are issued by Ministers and Heads of Ministry-equivalent Agencies or The Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court or The President of the Supreme People’s Procuracy.

Circulars of Ministers and Heads of Ministry-equivalent Agencies shall provide:
1. Detailed guidelines on the implementation of laws and resolutions of the National Assembly, ordinances and resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, orders and decisions of the State President, decrees of the Government and decisions of the Prime Minister;
2. Regulations on technical processes and standards as well as techno-economic norms of the sector/area covered by each Ministry or Ministry-equivalent Agency;
3. Ways to exercise management of the sector/area covered by each Ministry or Ministry-equivalent Agency and other issues upon instruction by the Government.

Circulars of the Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court shall aim to exercise management of local people’s courts and military courts in terms of organizational matters; and provide regulations on other issues within the authority of the Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court.

Circulars of the President of the Supreme People’s Procuracy shall provide ways to ensure the fulfillment of the tasks and authority of local people’s procuracies and military procuracies and regulations on other issues within the authority the President of the Supreme People’s Procuracy.

5. Decision

Decisions are issued by the State President, the Prime Minister or the State Auditor General.

Decisions of the State President shall aim to exercise the tasks and authority of the State President defined in the Constitution, laws and resolutions of the National Assembly, ordinances and resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly.

Decisions of the Prime Minister shall focus on:

  1. Ways to lead, manage and administer the Government’s operations and public administration system from the central to grassroots levels, working regimes of the cabinet members, Chairmen of People’s Committees of provinces and cities under central management and other issues within the Prime Minister’s authority;
  2. Ways to guide and coordinate the cabinet members’ activities; and examine operations of Ministries and Ministry-equivalent Agencies, Government-affiliated Agencies and People’s Committees at all levels in compliance with the State’s directions, policies and laws.

Decisions of the State Auditor General shall prescribe the State’s auditing standards and guide their implementation; and provide detailed auditing process/procedures and supporting documentation.

Reference: LAW ON THE PROMULGATION OF LEGAL DOCUMENTS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (12TH LEGISLATURE), 3RD SESSION, No. 17/2008/QH12 ON JUNE 03, 2008

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