The Law on Mutual Judicial Assistance has created a legal framework for the fields of civil law, criminal law, extradition, and the transfer of convicts over the last six years, a conference heard in Hanoi on September 30.

The law, the first act on mutual legal assistance drafted by the National Assembly, came into effect in 2008. It is regarded as an important step in Vietnam’s international cooperation efforts on law and justice, participants in the conference to review the law’s implementation said.

Ministries and sectors handled an increasing amount of complex judicial mandate cases.From January 2008 to the end of June 2014, the Ministry of Justice received 14,842 legal mandate orders from Vietnamese agencies to other countries, and 5,193 replies. Out of the replies, 540 came from countries with mutual judicial assistance agreements with Vietnam.

Statistics show that replies from countries with legal agreements with Vietnam accounted for 39 percent, while replies from nations without bilateral agreements accounted for 34.5 percent.

A total of 2,876 foreign judicial mandate orders were received, including 1,229 from countries with mutual judicial assistance agreements. Half of the received orders have been processed so far.

According to Deputy Minister Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, the low level of responses to mandate orders can be attributed to the poor linkages between litigation regulations, including civil legal procedures, and stipulations in the Law on mutual Judicial Assistance.

Additionally, the law on civil legal procedures does not mention specific regulations for cases with international elements or cases requiring legal mandates, Ngoc said.

In the short term, a hotline will be set up at the central level between Vietnam and countries that signed mutual judicial assistance agreements with Vietnam. This will enable courts to directly notify the Government of Vietnam or Vietnamese overseas representative offices, helping to shorten procedures and boost coordination between relevant ministries, sectors and agencies.

Participants suggested the development of separate laws to regulate different aspects in mutual legal assistance in the long run. The Law on Mutual Judicial Assistance should be revised and supplemented to ensure it addresses Vietnam’s international commitments. It must meet the realistic demands of crime prevention and control, settle civil cases that arise as a result of the country’s international integration and legal reform, and clarify the areas covered by the Law on Mutual Judicial Assistance and other laws on legal procedures.-VNA