Source of the case: On April 6, 2016, the Council of Judges of the Supreme People’s Court passed Precedent No.06/2016/AL (“Precedent No.06”) concerning an inheritance dispute based on final arbitration No.100/2013/GDT-DS dated August 12, 2013 (“Final Arbitration”).

Material Pacts: This Final Arbitration was an inheritance dispute between Mr. Vu Dinh Hung, the plaintiff and Ms. Vu Thi Tien and Ms. Vu Thi Hau, the defendants. The persons with related interests and obligations were Mr. Vu Dinh Duong, Ms. Vu Thi Cam, Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh and Ms. Ha Thuy Linh. Specifically, the house at  66 Dong Xuan St., Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi City (“the House) was built by Mr. Vu Dinh Quang (deceased in 1979) and Ms. Nguyen Thi Thenh (deceased in 1987). Mr. Quang and Ms. Thenh had 6 children, namely Mr. Vu Dinh Duong, Ms. Vu Thi Cam, Ms. Vu Thi Thao, Mr. Vu Dinh Hung, Ms. Vu Thi Tien (Ms. Hien) and Ms. Vu Thi Hau.  Mr. Duong, Ms. Cam and Ms. Thao have been abroad since 1979. After their father’s death, Ms. Thenh, Mr. Hung, Mrs. Tien and Mrs. Hau still lived in this house. When their mother died, three children Mr. Hung, Ms. Tien and Ms. Hau split the house up into 3 parts. On October 18, 1992, Ms. Tien sold her part of the house to Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh. On October 31, 1993, Ms. Hau sold her part of the house to Ms.  Ha Thuy Linh.

In 1993, Mr. Hung filed the request of the house inheritance for all heirs including those abroad. He provided the authorization letters made in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 by Mr. Duong, Ms. Cam, and Ms. Thao for him to manage their parts in the inheritance. After that, he also provided the documents that Mr. Duong, Ms. Thao and Ms. Cam made him as their heir in 1995. All the copies of the documents had stamps and seals from the respective countries of origin. (Mr. Duong was living in the U.K., Mrs. Cam was living in France and Ms. Thao in the U.S.).

During the court process, Mr. Hung, Ms. Tien and Ms. Hau declared that Mr. Duong and Ms. Thao died around 2002, Mr. Hung confirmed that the addresses of Ms. Cam and Ms. Thao were unchanged. He also contacted Mr. Duong’s son, but there was no response (records 376, 377, 382).

The first-instance court requested Mr. Hung to provide (i) death certificates of Mr. Duong and Ms. Thao and (ii) name and address of Mr. Duong’s and Mrs. Thao’s children. Mr. Hung declared that he could not provide and requested the Court to collect evidence to resolve this dispute according to the law (pen 390).

Judges’ Reasoning and Legal Application: Based on the Final Arbitration, the case decision was as follows:

In an inheritance dispute which any of the heirs reside abroad, if the Court had requested to conduct judicial entrustment, collect evidence in accordance with the law but still cannot identify their addresses, the Court still accepts the plaintiff’s request; if it is possible to determine inheritance, heirs in line, next of kin and beneficiaries without a will, the inheritance shall be divided according to the law. The part of inheritance of the absentee heir or an unidentified address will be temporarily held by the Vietnamese resident heirs to manage and will be handed over later to the absentee heir.


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