Mediation Developments in Vietnam

The recently enacted Decree 22 defines the types of disputes that can be referred to commercial mediation, the principles and process of commercial mediation, the qualifications of commercial mediators, their rights and obligations, and the establishment and operation of commercial mediation institutions.

In May 2018, the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre held a ceremony to launch the Vietnam Mediation Centre, VMC, a division of the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre in Hanoi. VMC is among the first organizations in Vietnam to provide professional commercial mediation services under Decree 22.

Mediation is very new and faces many obstacles

Mediation is still very new in Vietnam. Over time, the use of mediation in commercial disputes will become more popular, as Decree 22 gains greater awareness in the legal community. The use of mediation in commercial disputes faces many obstacles, however. The success of the mediation process depends on the selection of rules, the procedures for mediation and the mediator. Currently, the number of lawyers specializing in mediation procedures is limited. There is no formal accreditation in place for mediation, conciliation or arbitration in Vietnam. Very few commercial contracts in Vietnam provide ADR clauses that allow the parties to automatically move to mediation and conciliation, should a contractual dispute arise. Lastly, more training and promotion of mediation is necessary to add credibility to the process.

Decree 22 provides the framework and specific guidelines to enable parties to use mediation in the resolution of disputes, however, it still lacks some provisions on the use of evidence in mediation for other proceedings. These shortcomings make parties hesitate to use mediation to resolve their disputes.

Regardless of these deficiencies, the recent regulations are expected to create a sound legal framework for the solid development of mediation in Vietnam with:

  • More mediation centers
  • More mediators
  • More disputes settled by mediation and more successful mediations
  • Closer attainment to the objective of mediation: to replace an adversarial process with one that supports an amicable agreement and ongoing relationship between the parties

By Do Thanh Thuy, Senior Fellow-Vietnam, Weinstein International Foundation

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