The laws of Vietnam are complex and new legislation is constantly being introduced. What follows is no more than an introductory overview that we hope will assist investors to decide which areas of law they will need to research further.

This summary is, necessarily, selective and is no substitute for detailed legal advice.

1. Vietnam has a detailed Maritime Code which was promulgated on 30 June 1990. Subsequently, there has been legislation regulating the registration of sea-going ships and their crew. The Maritime Code consists of 244 Articles and is comprehensive. It deals, among other things with:-

- ownership and registration;
- maritime liens;
- crew;
- control of ports and port authorities;
- carriage of passengers;
- charterparties;
- shipbroking;
- salvage, collision, general average;
- marine insurance.

2. It is not possible to summarise these adequately in a publication of this nature. It should be noted that there is, in addition, separate legislation to deal with Foreign Trade Contracts.

3. More recently, Decree No. 14 CP of 25 February 1994 was passed. It regulates in detail the registration of ocean going vessels and crewing. The Vietnam National Maritime Bureau is responsible for dealing with registration and fees are set by the Ministry of Finance.

4. A Central Registrar of Vietnamese Ships and Crew has been appointed and there are also local Registrars. The initial procedures may be dealt with by the local Registrars, who then submit the documents to the Central Registrar.

5. Decree No. 14 sets out detailed provisions for the registration of tonnage:-

- Dual registry appears not to be permitted.

- Second hand vessels more than 15 years old are not accepted for first registration.

- Enterprises in Vietnam which have foreign investment are not permitted to carry domestic cargo and passengers without specific Government permission.

- Vietnamese bareboat charterers of foreign owned vessels are allowed to register them under Vietnamese flag.

- Provisional registration is provided for.

The law makes provision for the registration of mortgages, hypothecation and liens but it should be noted that all overseas borrowings have to be approved by the State Bank.

NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

If you would like further advice please contact: David Ellis, Johnson Stokes & Master, 16th Floor, Princes Building, 10 Chater Road, Hong Kong; Tel 2843 4226; Fax no. : 2845 9121. Alternatively do a text search "Johnson Stokes and Master" and "Business Monitor".