Possible changes to Vietnamese law on legal services criticised

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 1:24am

International lawyers and business leaders are warning Vietnam's government that proposed changes to its law on legal services would restrict foreign firms and spook investors at a time of faltering economic growth.

The proposed changes are under consideration this month in the lawmaking National Assembly.

A dozen foreign lawyers wrote to the assembly on October 24 saying the changes could prohibit their local employees from drafting contracts, making it very hard for them to do business here.

If the law passes, "it would mean that anybody investing or doing business in Vietnam would have to rely on a much smaller group of law firms, none of which have international networks or presence", Frederick Burke, a partner at the Ho Chi Minh City office of the American law firm Baker & McKenzie, said yesterday.

The Australian and European chambers of commerce in Vietnam wrote to the government earlier this month to support the foreign firms.