The emerging role of property rights in land and housing disputes in Hanoi

TitleThe emerging role of property rights in land and housing disputes in Hanoi
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGillespie J
Secondary AuthorsTai H-THo, Sidel M
Secondary TitleState, Society and the Market in Contemporary Vietnam: Property, Power and Values
Place PublishedLondon; New York
Key themesAccessToJustice, CivilSociety-Donors, Formalisation-titling, Policy-law, Urban

ABSTRACTED FROM THE INTRODUCTION: In this chapter, I explore how courts in Vietnam navigate and reconcile different regulatory approaches to housing and land disputes in Hanoi. To what extent and in what circumstances do courts draw on guidance from outside the juridical framework to resolve disputes? What constitutes fair and reasonable access to housing and land? Do courts ultimately have the power to put an end to quarrels and formulate lasting solutions to housing and land disputes? To address these questions, I examine at close range a series of housing and land disputes in Hanoi. The Vietnamese Constitution 1992 requires courts to resolve disputes according to the law. My findings suggest, on the contrary, that judges quickly exhaust the possibilities of statutory land rights and legal doctrines, and either push cases back to state officials or use "reason and sentiment in applying the law" (ly va tinh trong viec chap hanh phap luat), a type of situational justice, to to resolve cases. Outcomes are negotiated from a syncretic blend of statutory law, state policies, and community norms and practices. Contrary to de Soto's proposition I find that land titling has not brought legal order to housing and land disputes. Instead courts continue to rely more on administrative and self-regulatory norms and practices than statutory property rights to resolve housing and land disputes. To identify the norms and tacit assumptions underlying the different points along the regulatory continuum I draw on a series of interviews with retired state officials and a private land broker. Since most court judgements are not published in Vietnam, and even then only provide a sketchy account of events, I also relied on interviews with judges and lawyers to understand dispute resolution. Altogether I reviewed eighteen land and housing cases, and further twenty-three cassation appeal cases from 2005-6 that were published on a website hosted by the Supreme People's Court.


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