Effective from 1 June 2015, the new Law on Organization of People’s Court (LOPC) was adopted by Vietnam‘s National Assembly on November 24, 2014. By the time the law becomes effective, its implementing Decrees and/or Circulars will also be ready.
This law aims to provide a detailed explanation for the functions, duties and powers of the people’s court. This review highlights the important changes in the hierarchical structure, duties and power of the Supreme people’s court.
1. Modification in structure of people’s court
In the past, there have been three levels of people’s court: the people’s court of rural and urban districts; capital city courts and the people’s court of the provinces and centrally run cities; and the supreme people’s court. Under the new LOPC, the structure of people’s court is divided into four adjudicating levels (LOPC: Art. 3):
- The Supreme people’s court;
- Superior people’s court;
- Court of provinces and centrally-run cities; and
- Court of rural districts, urban districts, town, provincial, cities and the equivalent.
The new LOPC has introduced a superior people’s court into the structure, which further leads to reforms to the duties and powers of other people’s court.
2. Modification in powers and duties of the Supreme people’s court and the Superior people’s court
Under the new LOPC, the Supreme people’s court consists only of the Judicial council (from 13 to 17 members including the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justices and other judges), assisting apparatus and training institutions. By removing the specialized and appellate court from the structure of people’s court, it is clear that the Supreme people’s court will reduce its powers over appellate trials.
There are four significant powers that have been entrusted to the Supreme people’s court (Art 20 of the new LOPC):
- To supervise the adjudicating work of other courts;.
- To make overall assessment of the adjudicating practices of the other courts, ensuring the uniform application of law is enforced in the conduct of trials;
- To manage people’s courts organizationally and ensure independence of the courts from one another; and
- To submit to the National Assembly laws and resolutions; to submit to the National Assembly Standing Committee ordinances and resolutions in accordance with the law.
Reflecting on the allocated powers of the Supreme people’s court, the cassation and reopening trial decisions of its Judicial council are of the greatest significance and importance, and come into enforcement immediately.
Furthermore, as for the appearance of the new Superior people’s court, its duties will be as follows:
- To conduct appellate trials of cases in which the first-instance judgments, or decisions of people’s courts of provinces or centrally run cities within their territorial jurisdiction which have not yet taken legal effect, are appealed or protested against in accordance with the procedural law.
- To conduct the trial according to cassation or reopening procedure of cases in which judgments or decisions of people’s courts of provinces, centrally run cities, rural districts, urban districts, towns, provincial cities, or the equivalent authority within their territorial jurisdiction which have taken legal effect are protested against in accordance with the procedural law.
The Court of provinces and centrally-run cities no longer have the right to conduct a trial according to cassation or reopening of a case anymore, as those duties have now been allocated to the Superior people’s court. The remaining court does not change its duties.
- Plan to apply the new LOPC
To implement the new LOPC, the National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) issued Resolution No.81/2014/QH13 (Resolution No.81) on implementation of LOPC on November 24, 2014. Resolution No. 81 provided further clarification for adopting the new adjudicating levels as regulated in Resolution No.81.
Until the effective date of the new LOPC, the Chief Justice of the Supreme people’s court shall prepare the organization structure, personnel and other necessary conditions for the new adjudicating levels (Art 1.1 of Resolution No.81). The Judicial council of the Supreme people’s court has to transfer its duties and power to that which is newly established, in accordance with the new LOPC (Art 2.1 of Resolution No.81).
In the Meeting on May 14, 2015, NASC decided to establish three (03) main Supreme people’s courts (in Ha Noi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City) based on the current appellate courts of the Supreme people’s court. This will ensure the adaptability related to the structural organization, facilities and personnel of the new Supreme people’s court established under the new LOPC.
By Vietnam Law Insight.
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