A Code of Ethics and Conduct for Vietnamese Lawyers has been developed by the Vietnam Bar Federation (VBF) with Danish support. “The Code is just like a law on ethical standards of lawyers, creating the bases for lawyers to improve their ethics in daily life and in practicing. It is also the measurement of lawyers in protecting their dignity and reputation, learning experiences and professional skills, increasing the legal status of lawyers in the society”, said Lawyer Nguyen Minh Tam, the code drafting team leader.
The creation of the Code commenced in 2009 by the VBF. Aiming to have one national Code for all 62 local bar associations, the VBF consulted extensively with Vietnamese lawyers, the 62 local bar associations, law institutes and international experts, as well as referencing the codes of other international lawyer organizations in the development of the Code. The code was discussed in a seminar in February 2011 and was later approved by the National Council of Lawyers.
The final Code of Ethics and Conduct mentions general provisions which are basic ethics of lawyers such as loyalty to the Fatherland, protection of justice and socialist rule-of-law state, independence and honesty, respect of the truth, being upright and devoted to the profession; protection of the legitimate rights and interests of lawyers in line with provisions of the law, conduct and ethics of lawyers; providing high-quality services for clients with their best professional skills and responsibility; providing pro-bono legal aid for the poor, ensuring the trust of the community.
More specifically, the main contents of the Code focus on relationships of lawyers with clients, proceeding agencies and other state agencies, and colleagues. For example, the Code establishes the duty of lawyers to act in the best interest of their client, protect confidential information disclosed by clients, and guides lawyers in how to deal with situations of conflict. It also establishes that lawyers are not allowed to collude through mediators or directly contact with people conducting proceedings and state officers in order to commit illegal acts in dealing with cases, and lawyers should not provide false information, materials, and evidence or conduct any act to mislead agencies.
In 2nd half of the year, VBF will develop the Code’s training module and organize awareness training seminars for lawyers at local level. In addition, the VBF plans to draft Guidelines on dealing with violations of the Code and start to implement these before the end the year. The development and implementation of the Code is one of the first important steps to raise public awareness of the role of lawyers and develop the confidence of lawyers in their profession which is a challenge facing Vietnamese lawyers.
Denmark provided financial and technical assistance to Vietnam for the establishment of the VBF in 2009. The government of Denmark continues to support the development of the VBF through the Justice Partnership Programme (JPP)– a multi donor project in support of judicial reform in Vietnam – jointly funded with the European Union and Government of Sweden. The development of the Code of Ethics, with the support of the JPP, is a key achievement of the VBF.