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Legal System

In Vietnam, the legal system comprises of constitution, codes, laws, ordinances, decrees,
decisions, circulars, directives, and official letters, to some extent. Although all have the force of
law, only a law passed by the National Assembly is referred to as such. Ordinances are issued by
the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, commonly to regulate on an area where a law
is not yet promulgated and/or regulated. On matters that the National Assembly entrusted to the
Government, the Government issues decrees or decisions or directives to implement the issued
laws or ordinances.
Circulars, decisions and regulations are normally issued by individual ministries and
other State agencies including peoples committees, with respect to subjects within their sphere
of responsibility and the force of subordinate legislation. It should be noted when using that
while codes, laws and ordinances are referred to by the name, decrees, decisions, circulars and
directives are usually referred to by the number, signing date, and the name of issuer.
The Vietnamese legal system is often said to be similar to a civil law jurisdiction in that
its only source of law is written legislation, commonly referred to in Vietnam as legal
instruments. Court judgments are not a source of law: judges do not have the power to interpret
the law and court judgments are not binding in subsequent cases. Like Chinas legal system,
Vietnams may be described as a transitional legal system, as it
Vietnamese law is made up of more than 10,000 legal instruments. In this hierarchy,
higher-ranking legal instruments set out more general rules, while lower-ranking legal
instruments provide details for implementing the higher-ranking ones. Different bodies within
the Vietnamese system have the authority to issue different legal instruments. The list below
indicates the key types of legal instrument in hierarchical order. Moves from a centrally
controlled system to one where the rule of law applies.