30/03/2023 11:31

Joint liability for the property left behind by the deceased spouse in Vietnam

Joint liability for the property left behind by the deceased spouse in Vietnam

My husband and I had a small business but went bankrupt, now my husband has passed away. Am I responsible for the debt that we are both incurring as a result of the loss? Mai Anh – Ha Tinh

What are the regulations on joint liability between spouses in Vietnam? The judgment below will help you answer this question.

According to the appellate civil Judgment 303/2022/QD-PT on the sale and purchase contract dispute dated September 8, 2022 of the People's Court of Long An province, the specific content of the case is as follows:

"From February 16, 2011 to June 22, 2013, Mr. Truong Vinh H sold pig feed to Ms. Nguyen Thi T and Mr. Huynh Nam S. Mr. H directly transacted by phone with Ms. T, at one time her husband was Mr. Huynh Nam S (deceased). When delivering the goods, Ms. T and Mr. S may receive the goods and sign to confirm the debt. The purchase and sale were recorded by Mr. H. Mr. H sold Mrs. T Mr. S 03 Cargill branded feed products with the following symbols: code 8002: bran for piglets (swine <15 kg); code 1442: bran products for pregnant pigs; and code 1422: bran products for growing pigs.

For each delivery to Mr. S and T, Mr. H must specify 04 columns, including: date of delivery, type of grain, quantity of bags, and price per bag. Then add up the total value of each shipment. When delivering the goods, Mrs. T and Mr. S pay less, and then Mr. H writes the next line. Ms. T and Mr. S signed. As of January 14, 2013, Mr. S and Ms. T still owe Mr. H the amount of VND 1,195,130,800. Mr. H and Mr. S agreed to separate 1,000,000,000 VND to calculate 1%/month interest. Calculating interest from 20-02-2012 to 20-02-2013 is 122,000,000 VND, Mr. H owes Mr. S 1 year. The remaining amount is 195,130,800 VND without interest and continues to accumulate with new orders.

On June 22, 2013, Ms. T did not continue to buy bran from Mr. H due to inefficient husbandry, so Mr. H and Ms. T compared the debt, confirming the debt was 273,989,500 VND. Therefore, plus the old debt of 1,122,000,000 VND, the total debt is 1,395,989,500 VND. Mr. S, Mrs. T, and Mr. H agree to pay the debt in 3 months. After that, Mr. and Mrs. T only paid in monthly installments from October 19, 2013, to February 16, 2019, for a total of VND 367,000,000. Since March 2019, Mr. S died, so he has not continued to pay. Mr. H has repeatedly asked Mrs. T to fulfill her debt repayment obligation according to the agreement, but Ms. T has not done so. Realizing that Ms. T's non-payment of debts has directly infringed on the legitimate rights and interests of Mr. H. Therefore, Mr. H sued and requested the People's Court of Thu Thua district  announce that Ms. Nguyen Thi T, Ms. Nguyen Thi B, Mr. Huynh Minh T1, and Ms. Huynh Minh H2 jointly pay Mr. Truong Vinh H the outstanding amount of VND 1,028,989,500, without asking for interest. Time to pay once when the court judgment or decision takes legal effect."

The People's Court of Long An province concluded:

Partially accepting Mr. Truong Vinh H's claim against Ms. Nguyen Thi T, Ms. Nguyen Thi B, Mr. Huynh Minh T1, and Ms. Huynh Minh H2 about the "dispute over the sale and purchase contract,"

Forcing Mrs. Nguyen Thi T, Ms. Nguyen Thi B, Mr. Huynh Minh T1, and Ms. Huynh Minh H2 to be responsible for paying Mr. Truong Vinh H the amount to buy animal feed of 906,267,500 VND.

The purchase and sale took place over a long period of time; however, Mr. H kept a delivery and receipt book to monitor and record each specific day continuously, without skipping a page, and Ms. T fully signed each delivery. Therefore, there is enough basis to confirm that the goods delivery and receipt book has legal value, which can be used as a basis to settle the case.

At the same time, on each page, it is possible to show the quantity of the unit price and the total amount that Ms. T signed to receive the following pages without objection as acceptance.

In this case, the sale and purchase contract took place before the entry into force of the Civil Code 2015, so a number of provisions in the Civil Code 2005, also known as the "retrospective" principle, would apply.

Article 124.- Forms of civil transactions

A civil transaction shall be expressed verbally, in writing, or through specific acts.

2. ...

Article 428.- Contracts for property sale and purchase

A contract for property sale and purchase is an agreement between the parties whereby the seller has the obligation to hand over the property to the purchaser and receive payment, while the purchaser has the obligation to accept the property and make payment to the seller.

Article 438.- The duty to pay

The purchaser must pay in full at the time and place agreed upon; in the absence of such agreement, he/she/it must make full payment at the time and place of handing over the property.

The purchaser must pay interests starting from the date of late payment as specified in Clause 2, Article 305 of this Code, unless otherwise agreed upon or provided for by law.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Civil Code 2015:

Article 430.- Quality of objects for sale and purchase

The quality of the objects for sale and purchase shall be agreed upon by the parties.

2. ...

Article 440.- Time for bearing risks

The seller shall bear the risks to the property for purchase and sale until the property is handed over to the purchaser; while the purchaser shall bear risks to such property from the time of receiving it, unless otherwise agreed upon.

The purchase and sale contract is directly negotiated by Mr. H and Ms. T, sometimes by telephone, this is also a form of civil transaction recognized by law. At the same time, during the delivery, Mr. H also shows full information about the goods and prices and has the signatures of Mr. S, Mrs. T. Based on the signature verification results and the invoices and documents provided by Mr. H (although they have been erased, the content can still be viewed, and the content of the purchase and sale is seamless without page jumping), Ms. T's side also has no evidence to show that Mr. H has been fully paid. Therefore, the Court recognizes Mr. H's claim to be completely grounded.

Pursuant to the provisions on joint responsibility for common property of husband and wife in the Law on Marriage and Family 2014.

Article 27. Joint liability of husband and wife

Husband and wife shall take joint liability for transactions prescribed in Clause 1, Article 30, which are made by either of them, or other transactions made in conformity with provisions on representation of Articles 24, 25 and 26, of this Law.

Husband and wife shall take joint liability for the obligations prescribed in Article of this Law.

Article 30. Rights and obligations of husband and wife to meet their family’s essential needs

Husband and wife have the right and obligation to make transactions to meet their family’s essential needs.

Article 33. Common property of husband and wife

Common property of husband and wife includes property created by a spouse, incomes generated from labor, production and business activities, yields and profits arising from separate property and other lawful incomes in the marriage period; except the case prescribed in Clause 1, Article 40 of this Law; property jointly inherited by or given to both, and other property agreed upon by husband and wife as common property.

Thus, based on the basis of Mr. S's purchase of pig feed in Clause 1, Article 30 of the Law on Marriage and Family 2014, this debt is to meet the essential needs, the ordinary daily needs of food, clothing, accommodation, study, medical examination and treatment, economic development, family life; and other normal living needs indispensable for the life of each person, and each family should be under the common obligation of husband and wife's property.

Therefore, the sale and purchase occurred during the existing marriage between Mrs. T and Mr. S. Breeding for the purpose of family economic development. Ms. T presented but could not provide documents and evidence to prove it. Mr. S died, leaving behind property obligations. Mr. H filed a lawsuit, asking Mrs. T and Mr. S's heirs to be responsible for paying for the purchase and sale and to be recognized by the Court as having grounds.

Nguyen Ngoc Tram

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