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Laos: Draft Resolution on Administrative Courts

(Sept. 11, 2017) It was reported on July 19, 2017, that discussions had been held in Laos on the draft National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee Resolution on Administrative Case Procedure, and that the People’s Supreme Court and the Institute for Legal Support and Technical Assistance (ILSTA) had convened some 30 senior legal experts from all relevant sectors to finalize the draft before it is submitted for debate in the next session of the unicameral NA.  (Somsack Pongkhao, Laos to Establish Administrative Courts, VIENTIANE TIMES (July 19, 2017); Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Sapha Heng Xat (National Assembly), Inter-Parliamentary Union website (last updated June 13, 2016).)  The drafters had held several previous consultations on the draft resolution and also taken study tours to Vietnam, Thailand, and France in connection with working out its provisions.  (Somsack, supra.)

The aim if the draft legislation isto better address administrative disputes between executive agencies and the general public,” allowing Lao citizens to file lawsuits against government officials and government organs “for alleged mistreatment or inappropriate exercise of power and for carelessness or negligence” in serving the public.  (Id.)  According to Deputy Minister of Justice Ket Kiettisak, in the past, because of the lack of administrative courts and the relevant legal framework, there had been legal disputes over such issues as land use, hospital treatment, taxation, the environment, and public payments and other State services, but no lawsuits could be lodged.  (Id.) 

Ket, who described the draft resolution as “a milestone in the development of the legal sector in Laos,” stated that it would establish provincial/capital-level administrative courts and a court at the Supreme Court level, but that this system would not extend down to the district level.  (Id.)  In addition to providing a means for addressing disputes between executive agencies and the public, the courts will also provide a venue for disputes between state organizations themselves, between administrative agencies and civil servants, and between administrative agencies and non-state organizations.  (Id.)