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The Supreme People's Court of Vietnam: Benchbook Online

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I am very pleased that Australia in cooperation with the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam has supported the development of a Benchbook for the Vietnamese judiciary. This is the first official Benchbook for the Vietnamese judiciary.

The Benchbook is the principal outcome of the project which has been funded over the past two years through the Capacity Building for Effective Governance (CEG) Facility under the Vietnam-Australia Development Cooperation Program.

Australian Government support of the Handbook’s development reflects Australia’s commitment to judicial reform and to strengthening the rule of law and judicial institutions in Vietnam. The publication of the Benchbook comes at a time of profound changes in the Vietnamese judicial and legal system as Vietnam integrates increasingly into the international legal and economic system.

The Benchbook will contribute to establishing a transparent, fair and effective judicial system which is an important condition for strengthening the rule of law and sustainable economic and social development. The Benchbook will strengthen the institutional capacity of the court system through enhancing the professionalism of judges in their judicial activities. The Benchbook should also contribute to the independence of the judiciary in Vietnam.

The Benchbook is particularly timely as it is being launched just after two important pieces of judicial procedural legislation – the criminal and civil procedure codes – have come into effect. This legislation and other changes will mean a substantially increased workload for less experienced District Court judges for whom the Benchbook will be especially useful. The Benchbook is being published in hard-copy and in electronic formats on the internet and CD-ROM and is designed to be updated.

It is proper that the Benchbook has been authored by senior members of the Vietnamese judiciary, as judges themselves are in the best position to understand the needs of judges and the practical skills required in court proceedings. The Vietnamese authors of the Benchbook have been expertly led by Dr Dang Quang Phuong, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam. I would like to pay tribute to the role of Dr Phuong and the Vietnamese judges who have authored the Benchbook.

The Australian involvement has been in the form of technical assistance and the provision of funds (USD 370,000). Australia has been particularly fortunate in obtaining the consulting services of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) to provide the international expertise for the Benchbook development project. I would like to express our sincerest thanks to the two Australian consultants provided by IDLO: Ms Cate Sumner, Director of IDLO’s Asia Pacific Training Centre in Sydney and Justice Michael Moore, Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. It is noteworthy that Australia funded a similar Benchbook in the Philippines with the assistance of IDLO.

I very much hope that Vietnamese judges will find the Benchbook of great assistance in carrying out their daily duties in court and that the Benchbook will also be useful in training judges and others involved in judicial proceedings.

                                                                                        Bill Tweddell
                                                                     Australian Ambassador to Vietnam