Update on Draft Civil Code

After promulgation, the upcoming Civil Code currently being drafted by the Government of Lao PDR (the “GOL”) will replace the Property Law; Contract and Tort Law; Family Law; Heritage and Basis of Inheritance; Secured Transaction Law; Nationality Law; Enterprise Law; and others. It aims to homogenise and clarify the legal concepts expressed in different, and sometimes contrary, ways across the scope of numerous laws.

In accordance with the 5 Year Work Plan 2010-2015 for the Creation and Revision of Laws, the Committee for Drafting the Civil Code (the “Committee”) was established in 2012. The Committee is comprised of representatives from a 7-sector cross-section of the GOL:

  • The Ministry of Justice;
  • The National Assembly;
  • The People Courts;
  • The Offices of People Prosecutors;
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • The Ministry of Industry and Commerce; and
  • The National University of Laos.

The Committee is chaired by the Chairman of the Law Commission of the National Assembly and divided into 4 sub-committees. The first meeting of the Committee was held on 8 June 2012 to discuss the basis and need to implement a Civil Code, including its structure, contents, implementation and to review and discuss the experiences of foreign countries in the implementation of similar legislation. The drafting is being supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency in providing funding and consultation from senior Japanese experts.

The overriding purpose and goal of the Civil Code is to create a united and constant civil legal framework that can be used consistently by the GOL, the judiciary, legal practitioners, companies and citizens. It will create consistent pathways for the conduct of judicial proceedings and standardize definitions and concepts that are codified in numerous forms throughout current legislation.

For example, currently definitions of terms such as ‘individual’ and ‘legal entity’ are provided for separately in various laws, sub-laws and regulations such as in the Property Law, Contract and Tort Law, Secured Transaction Law and others.  In some cases this has created complication and confusion for the relevant authorities in determining the nature of relationships between parties and the legal framework which should be applied to such.

The current draft of the Civil Code is comprised of 11 Chapters and 615 Articles.

Since 2012, the draft Civil Code has been presented in consultations throughout Lao PDR and in Japan on numerous occasions. Most recently, the draft was submitted the General Meeting of the National Assembly on 16 April 2017 for comments only, not adoption. The current draft has since been under renewed consultation with stakeholders.

To receive updates on the progress of the consultations on the draft Civil Code please contact Arion Legal at enquiries@arionlegal.com to be added to our mailing list.

Author: Khamkong Liemphrachanh, Senior Counsel – Head of Government Relations