New Mediation Program for Vietnam
Thomas G. Giglione
- Mediator and Negotiations Trainer
Senior Advisor at LawPro www.lawpro.vn
On May 16
2013, the Ministry of Justice published an important decision setting up a drafting committee to consider bringing
in commercial mediation services in Vietnam.
Nguyen Duc Chinh, Vice Minister of Justice, was appointed as Head of a Drafting Committee comprised of 18
I believe this is wonderful news for the Vietnamese legal system, Vietnamese lawyers, and the general
This event takes me back to the time I was a lecturer of Alternative Dispute Resolution at York University in
Toronto, Canada. It was 1996 and a group of lawyers, mediators, and educators, such as myself, proposed a similar
decree for the Canadian Justice System in my province of Ontario. I was one of the founders as well as
chairman of an organization called Upper Canada Dispute Resolution (UCDR). We had the vision and desire to see
mediation become integrated into the Canadian legal system. The group worked on a pilot project for one year, pro
bono, mediating commercial dispute cases and helping to relieve some of the backlog in the Ontario courts. The
ministry issued a report on the results of the pilot project after conducting a survey of over 3,000 mediations. It
showed that 44% of the mediated cases were settled within seven days and well over half of the cases were
eventually settled through the Mandatory Mediation Program.
In 1997, the Ministry of the Attorney implemented the Mandatory Mediation Program and appointed me as Roster
mediator for the Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor regions. The Ontario Mandatory Mediation is still in effect in 2013
and is seen as a model program around the world in integrating mediation with the judicial process.
Now I'm living in Hanoi, Vietnam and it seems that history is repeating itself. I am currently collaborating
with Doan Thu Nga, the managing director of the law firm, LawPro, (
) to present a similar mandatory mediation pilot project modeled after the Canadian system. We have the same vision
of introducing commercial and family mediation to Vietnam. We are currently talking with the Hanoi Bar Association,
the Canadian Bar Association in Hanoi, and the Judicial Academy in Hanoi about offering negotiation training
courses on mediation for lawyers, law students and business people.
The Canadian study showed that the Mandatory Mediation Program had met its objective of increasing the speed of
dispute resolution in civil cases. While mediation has had mixed results in reducing delays in the United States,
the Ontario program – incorporating early mediation and case management – has moved cases to disposition more
The Canadian system is a case-managed system in which mediation is incorporated and becomes an integral part of the
Before 1997, the Ontario Civil Court system had a reputation for substantial backlogs and delays, so its improved
performance since then has shown the effectiveness of early mandatory mediation. Both litigants and lawyers
reported a significant impact on reducing costs, about $3,000 dollars per case on average. Lawyers were also
pleased because their cases got settled more quickly, they were paid more quickly and also increased their volume
of cases. The result was a low-cost solution, resulting in savings for the public, lawyers and the
(A copy of the report is available by request to the writer by email at
Currently there are only two ways to resolve disputes in Vietnam – arbitration and litigation. Soon there will be
more options for resolving all types of conflict, including commercial and family law disputes. These Alternative
Dispute Resolution (ADR) systems include Collaborative Law, Mediation, Conciliation and Facilitation. I believe, as
most lawyers do, that a lawyer should be acting in the best interests of their clients. Part of that responsibility
includes advising them on the best viable option in resolving disputes.
All these ADR processes involve negotiation skills between one or more persons. Knowing how to negotiate is a skill
and some might say it is an art.
I believe that Mediation is one of the best ways to resolve disputes because the parties retain control of
the process and decide the outcome of negotiations in an informal and confidential manner.
Collaborative Law is another ADR process often used in family law disputes. The Collaborative Process is very
similar to the mediation process above in that the process is voluntary and confidential. All parties engage in
principled negotiation with their lawyers with a view to settling the dispute without going to court.
Facilitation is used in a variety of group settings. For example, businesses use facilitation as a preventative
measure to make their organizations run more smoothly and with less conflict.
Conciliation is another (ADR) process in which the parties to a dispute meet with a conciliator separately in an
attempt to resolve differences.
I believe that lawyers and their clients will benefit greatly when mediation is an option. A Win-Win solution will
result when the litigants move away from their adversarial positions and focus their energy on finding common