As online commerce grows in Viet Nam, regulations on consumer protection and disputes should be strengthened, experts said at a conference held on November 10 in HCM City.
Lawyer Chau Viet Bac, deputy general secretary of Viet Nam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC), said that more and more business-to-consumer sellers are paying attention to their websites and keeping them up-to-date, which is signalling a positive development in e-commerce.
Nguyen Ngoc Dung, deputy chairman of Viet Nam E-commerce Association (VECOM), noted that e-commerce is growing by around 30 per cent every year, and the fact that more and more sites are being created is encouraging businesses and customers to trade online.
As of May this year, the amount of visits to e-commerce platforms was 150 per cent higher year-on-year, he said.
Dung noted that there are still barriers to overcome, such as customers’ lack of familiarity and trust in e-commerce. In order to have a transparent and trustworthy transaction climate, there should be more effective mechanisms to deal with disputes that may arise in transactions.
Lawyer Nguyen Trung Nam, an arbitrator from VIAC and director of the Viet Nam Mediation Centre (VMC), said that e-commerce platforms’ general terms and conditions do not sufficiently protect customers’ rights.
“If I were to demand compensation from faulty products that had affected my wellbeing, e-commerce platforms may not be able to help me much. They may only offer me a refund or may try to deal with the violating sellers. I might not be able to demand compensation larger than the value of the faulty products.”
Nam mentioned the Online Dispute Resolution service, an online platform for resolving disputes using information technology, which is being used widely in several countries around the world, such as France’s International Chamber Of Commerce and China’s Guangzhou Arbitration Commission.
According to lawyer Hoang Nguyen Ha Quyen, a managing partner of law firm LNT & Partners and a mediator from VMC, some sellers on e-commerce platforms do not adhere to their responsibilities and cause violations.
The platforms themselves also lack a mechanism to effectively monitor their sellers’ conformity to their rules. While laws regarding how trade fraud is dealt with have been adjusted over the years, there is a lack of a mechanism to ensure that sellers are truthfully providing all the required information about their products.
As e-commerce and online transactions grow, stricter laws for the electronic environment must be created.
During the conference, the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre and VECOM signed a Memorandum of Understanding on working together to improve Vietnamese businesses’ competitiveness and avoidance of legal risks on online platforms. VIAC and VECOM also signed an MoU on the same goal. VNS