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Three Ways to Settle a Land Dispute in Vietnam Everyone Should Know

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Vietnamese law on land disputes prescribe various ways to settle a land dispute, including self-conciliation, mandatory conciliation at a commune-level People’s Committee, requesting a district- or provincial-level People’s Committees for settlement or initiating a lawsuit at a People’s Court.

Method 1: Through conciliation

Self-conciliation or grassroots conciliation

Clause 1, Article 202 of the 2013 Land Law stipulates that:

“The State encourages parties involved in a land dispute to conduct self-conciliation or seek settlement through grassroots conciliation”

This is the method of settlement encouraged by the State, but the conciliation results are not binding and their implementation depends on goodwill among parties involved.

Mandatory conciliation at a commune-level People’s Committee

Clause 2, Article 202 of the 2013 Land Law stipulates that:

“When self-conciliation fails, parties involved in a land dispute shall file a petition to the commune-level People’s Committee in charge of the area where the dispute takes place for conciliation”

As such, when conciliation fails but the parties involved in a land dispute still wish to seek settlement, they are required to file a petition to the People’s Committee of the commune, ward or town where the dispute takes place for conciliation; otherwise they may not initiate a lawsuit or file a petition to a district- or provincial-level People’s Committee for settlement.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Disputes in determining who has the use rights to a land must be conciliated (these are land disputes).
  • Other disputes concerning land use rights such as those over transactions relating to land use rights, over inheritance of land use rights or over division of common property between husband and wife which is land use rights do not require conciliation (these are not land disputes).

Success in conciliation means the end of a dispute; otherwise, depending on the case, different methods of settlement prescribed by law may be applied (e.g. initiating a lawsuit or requesting a district- or provincial-level People’s Committee for settlement).

Method 2: Requesting a district- or provincial-level People’s Committee for settlement

Pursuant to Clause 2, Article 203 of the 2013 Land Law, there are only two methods of settlement available for disputes where litigants are not holders of Land Use Rights Certificates or any of the land use rights documents specified in Article 100 of the 2013 Land Law:

  • Either filing a petition for settlement of the dispute to a People’s Committee of competent level (a district-level People’s Committee for disputes between families or individuals). In case of any disagreement with the settlement decisions, the litigants may lodge a complaint to the Chairperson of the provincial People’s Committee or initiate a lawsuit at a Court in accordance with the law on administrative proceedings
  • Or initiating a lawsuit at a Court in charge of the area where the land is located in accordance with the law on civil procedure.

Method 3: Initiating a lawsuit at a People’s Court

Pursuant to Clauses 1 and 2, Article 203 of the 2013 Land Law, litigants involved in the following disputes may initiate a lawsuit at a People’s Court:

  • Land disputes where litigants are holders of Land Use Rights Certificates or any of the documents specified in Article 100 of the Land Law.
  • Disputes over properties attached to land (e.g. residential houses or construction works).
  • Land disputes where litigants are not holders of Land Use Rights Certificates or any of the documents specified in Article 100 of the Land Law.

Guide to the procedure for initiating a lawsuit

There are not any separate articles in the 2015 Civil Procedure Code prescribing the conditions for initiating a lawsuit. However, based on the Code, one could see that in order for a lawsuit to be initiated the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • The initiator(s) have the right to initiate a lawsuit
  • The dispute falls under the jurisdiction of the Court for specific types of civil matters
  • The dispute has not been settled
  • The dispute has not been conciliated at a commune-level People’s Committee

Above are the ways to settle a land dispute in Vietnam; particularly for initiating a lawsuit at a Court, the parties involved need to consider the success rate as well as court fees and court cost fee advance rates prior to such undertaking.

For the full version of 2013 Land Law of Vietnam or other relevant documents, please click here.

Truong Nguyen

Truong Nguyen