In response to the Covid-19 crisis, many courts around the world and specifically in Southeast Asia are strengthening their electronic filing systems and shifting to virtual hearings. Vietnam is following this trend and has committed to apply technological solutions to adopt an e-court system. While the Supreme Court of Vietnam established this objective before the outbreak of the pandemic in Directive No. 01/2020/CT-CA dated January 9, 2020, it has just proposed and submitted draft rules on online trials to the National Assembly in late September 2021.

The Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam is now seeking the opinion and approval of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam before presenting the draft rules to the National Assembly for voting in their second meeting of the year in October 2021. If approved, it is expected that it will take some time for the rules on online trials to be adopted and implemented by the Vietnamese court system due to the need to upgrade the technology of the different court levels from the Supreme Court to lower-level courts. Training will also be required, so that judges, secretaries, and individuals working in the judiciary are equipped with sufficient IT knowledge in order to manage the system and hold the virtual court hearings effectively.

Amid the pandemic, the need has arisen to proceed with temporarily suspended cases and to resume receiving petitions and other documents, especially in hard-hit areas that have been forced to refrain from opening any court meetings and hearings due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible to effectively bring the cases to trial within the prescribed time limit, protect human rights and the legitimate rights and interests of the parties, stabilize social order and safety, and ensure safe measures for disease prevention and control.