The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and Vietnam’s Supreme People’s Court recently launched the “Judicial Manual for Commercial Mediation and Arbitration”, to assist judges in adopting a consistent and predictable approach in applying national legal regulations on arbitration and mediation-related matters, building investor trust and improving the country’s business environment as a result.

Vietnam is a signatory to many international treaties governing international trade and investment, including the 1958 New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, since 1995. An international framework aimed at harmonizing international arbitration law and increasing predictability in recognition and enforcement, its application by national courts is an important reference point for foreign businesses when considering business engagements with Vietnam.

At a time when the country is accelerating its integration into the global economy, Vietnam wants to ensure consistency between its legislative and regulatory framework and international regulations on commercial dispute resolution.

The result of significant effort, the comprehensive manual interprets key legal concepts and terms, elaborating on notions that are particular to arbitration and mediation. It also explains concepts that are crucial for issues related to alternative dispute resolution. Additionally, the manual offers a how-to on applying arbitration laws in a uniform manner and offers examples to help judges draw from judicial practice in other countries that have dealt with similar issues.

“We hope this manual will serve as a practical desk guide for judges to better understand the legal regulations and apply them properly to efficiently resolve arbitration and mediation-related matters under the jurisdiction of People’s Courts,” said Ms. Nguyen Thuy Hien, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court.

Introduced at a roadshow covering the three major business cities of Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City, the manual intends to serve as a reference point, helping judges apply the law consistently across courts to resolve arbitral issues with regard to new regulations in the Civil Procedural Code 2015. The code was amended to ensure consistency between Vietnam’s legislative and regulatory framework and the regime under the New York Convention.

“The rule of law and its enforcement is crucial for an improved business environment,” said Mr. Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. “Businesses and investors need clarity on rights and procedures to enforce contracts in Vietnam. When something goes wrong, both parties should know what to expect from the legal and arbitration system.”

Developed in partnership with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the manual will be a significant step towards making Vietnam a reliable destination for business and investment, where the rights of investors are respected and exercised fairly.