Study Trip to Berlin and Karlsruhe by the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam

Delegation from the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe

In early July 2022, IRZ joined with the Federal Ministry of Justice to organise a high-ranking study trip to Berlin and Karlsruhe for the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam as part of the German-Vietnamese Rule of Law Dialogue. Led by Chief Justice Nguyen Hoa Binh, the eleven-strong delegation included judges from the Supreme People’s Court and the Hanoi District People’s Court, the director of the Supreme People’s Court Academy and representatives from other departments.

Vietnam has initiated a long-term strategy aimed at strengthening and improving the rule of law. The Vision 2045 development strategy includes plans for extensive structural reforms for the period from 2021 to 2030, which will also extend to the judicial field. Among the goals is to achieve a clearer delineation of task and powers assigned to government bodies at the legislative, executive and judicial levels. Nguyen Hoa, Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, is at the heart of these reforms – as a member of the Politburo, he is in charge of implementing reforms of the judiciary within the framework of this rule of law programme. Against this backdrop, the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam had asked for expert talks on court organisation and administration, special court jurisdiction, lay jurisdiction (lay judges) and juvenile jurisdiction.

This brief visit started at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Berlin, where, after a video greeting by State Secretary Dr Angelika Schlunck, the delegation shared views with speakers from various departments on the structure of the court system in Germany, including criminal jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of the states, as well as on juvenile criminal law. The concept of juvenile court assistance as well as diversion met with great interest, which was well illustrated during a subsequent visit to the Berlin-Tiergarten Local Court, which included practical explanations of sanctioning practice in German juvenile criminal law, as well as a tour of the facilities for victims and witness support for children and juveniles.

The highlight of the study trip was a visit to the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, where key issues of court administration such as the allocation of cases and the stages of proceedings (appeals, complaints against denial of leave to appeal) were addressed in more detail. The delegation provided a summary of Vietnam’s extensive reform projects in the judicial field and stressed the particular significance of comparing legal systems in discussions with colleagues from the highest German court of general jurisdiction as part of the visit agenda.

A translation of the German Judiciary Act and the Youth Courts Act into Vietnamese was requested by the head of the delegation, as draft laws must be submitted to the National Assembly by May 2023, in which the European rules should be taken into account. The translated laws will be made available to the Vietnamese side shortly.

After completing the talks in Germany, the delegation travelled on to France for more technical discussions.