E-commerce regulations are set to change with the recent issuance of Decree 85/2021/ND-CP amending and supplementing several articles of Decree 52/2013/ND-CP on e-commerce ("Decree 85"). Most notably, Decree 85 brings offshore entities operating e-commerce websites in Vietnam within its scope. Decree 85 enters into force on 1 January 2022.
Broadened scope of application
Decree 85 and its requirements will apply to offshore traders and organisations operating e-commerce websites in Vietnam if the e-commerce websites fulfill any of the following:
- The websites are displayed in Vietnamese language;
- The websites are under Vietnamese domain names; or
- The website processes more than 100,000 sales transactions annually from Vietnam.
Offshore traders and organisations falling within scope will have to register their e-commerce activities with the Ministry of Industry and Trade ("MOIT") and establish representative offices in Vietnam or appoint representative(s). It is noted that social network platforms may also be deemed as e-commerce trading floors. Relevant entities must also coordinate with the competent authorities to prevent illegal transactions, protect consumers, and ensure the quality of products. Decree 85 also imposes stricter sanctions on e-commerce platforms with respect to infringement cases and disputes (more details are provided below).
Measures that must be taken upon detection or receipt of reports of violation(s)
Decree 85 requires e-commerce platforms to take prompt measures upon detection or receipt of reports of violation(s) relating to trade of illegal goods/services. Such measures, among others, include:
- Take down of information relating to illegal goods/services within 24 hours upon receipt of request from competent authorities;
- Coordinate with the relevant intellectual property rights holders to monitor and remove infringing products; and
- Restrict violating entities from providing services on e-commerce websites for a definite or indefinite period of time.
Duty to cooperate with the authorities for investigations and handling of infringements
E-commerce platforms are also obligated to actively support enforcement authorities. Specifically, e-commerce platforms are required to liaise with the competent authorities in the following ways:
- Provide information about suspected infringers to the authorities upon detection or receipt of such information;
- Update key words on a regular basis as suggested by the authorities and filter information relating to infringing services/goods before they are uploaded and displayed on e-commerce platforms;
- Receive and respond to complaints on the MOIT's e-commerce management portal (online.gov.vn).
Additional requirements for e-commerce platforms with online order features
Decree 85 imposes additional requirements on e-commerce platforms with online order features such as the following:
- Assign a contact point to receive requests and provide the authorities with information about potential infringers within 24 hours upon the receipt of such requests;
- Act as a focal point for the handling of consumer complaints when transactions involve foreign sellers or more than two parties;
- Store data on sales transactions and orders in accordance with the Law on Accounting; and
- Be jointly liable regarding compensation should they fail to comply with Decree 85 requirements.
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.