The Peoples Court and the People's Procuracy of Vietnam must learn the hard way when settling the requests for the implementation of the Singapore High Courts decision, recognition of a decision of foreign Court in Vietnam, recognition of a decision of Singapore Court in Vietnam, enforcement of a decision of foreign Court in Vietnam, enforcement of a decision of Singapore Court in Vietnam, enforcement of foreign Court's order in Vietnam, enforcement of foreign Court's in Vietnam, enforcement of Singapore Court's order in Vietnam

Notes to The People’s Court and the People’s Procuracy of Vietnam when settling the requests for the implementation of the Singapore High Court’s decision

When settling the request of a bank in Singapore, the two Vietnamese courts encountered many mistakes because of not considering international treaties and consulting the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnam Ministry of Justice.

Recently, the Council of Judges of the Supreme People’s Court announced that both the first-instance and appellate judgments were annulled on the settlement of the request for recognition and enforcement in Vietnam of a decision of the High Court of the Republic of Singapore (the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore).

At the same time, the Supreme People’s Procuracy has experienced in supervising the settlement of this issue.

Requests for the implementation of the Singapore High Court’s decision

Records show that at the end of 2010, Mr. N.H.B and Ms. V.T.B.L borrowed nearly S$5,000,000 from DBS Bank Ltd. Borrowers mortgage an apartment in Singapore. Because the two people did not pay the debt, the bank started a lawsuit on them.

In 2013, the Singapore High Court issued a decision forcing Mr. B. and Ms. L. to hand over the mortgaged property; full payment of principal and interest.

For the execution, the borrower hands over the property. The bank issued a real estate call option for more than S$4,026,000. As of 2014, Mr. B. and Ms. L. owe the bank more than S$1,900,000.

The two borrowers failed to pay the outstanding debt, therefore, the bank filed an application with the court in Vietnam (where the borrower resides), asking for recognition and enforcement in Vietnam of the remaining amount that the borrower is obliged to pay as the judgment in Singapore.

In 2017, the first instance and appellate courts in Vietnam accepted the proposal of the foreign banks.

Disagreeing with the proposal, Mr. B. and Ms. L requested the competent agency to protest according to cassation procedures against the appellate decision to settle the above matter. In 2021, the Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court protested in the direction of annuling both the appellate and first-instance decisions; hand over the file to the first-instance court for processing from the beginning.

At the stage of cassation, the Judges’ Council of the Supreme People’s Court agreed with the protest. The decision on cassation indicates that Vietnam and Singapore are not yet parties to an international treaty with provisions on recognition and enforcement in Vietnam of judgments and decisions of foreign courts (abbreviated: treaties).

The two levels of courts do not require the bank to provide documents from a Singapore court or other competent authority confirming many issues, including: a decision issued by the Singapore High Court has legal effect law, the statute of limitations for enforcement has not expired and needs to be implemented in Vietnam; the High Court of Singapore duly summoned the two borrowers as a result of serving a valid decision.

Not to mention, the two courts have not sent any documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice. The appellate court also made a mistake when determining that this was a business or commercial activity. Meanwhile, the petition for the above situation is a civil matter (based on Article 27, Civil Procedure Code 2015).

The Supreme People’s Procuracy noted that the People’s Procuracy at all levels must study and consider Vietnam as well as whether the State whose court issued the judgment or decision is a party to the treaty in this regard, based on its experience supervising the settlement of requests for recognition and enforcement of foreign court judgments and decisions in Vietnam.

In case both countries are parties to the treaty, the competent authority shall strictly supervise all papers and documents.

If the two countries are not both parties to the treaty, the People’s Procuracy at all levels is responsible for inspecting papers and documents based on current laws. In addition, the court sent documents to the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnam Ministry of Justice to consult the implementation of the principle of reciprocity between Vietnam and the country where the court issued the judgment or decision.

Accepting the request made by the bank, the two-level court violated the above provisions.

“Article 27. Civil petitions falling under the courts’ jurisdiction

The petition for recognition and enforcement in Vietnam or non-recognition of civil judgments or decisions, or decisions on properties in criminal or administrative judgments or decisions of foreign Courts or not to recognize civil judgments or decisions, or decisions on properties in criminal or administrative judgments or decisions of foreign courts, which are not requested to be enforced in Vietnam.”

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