Business Litigation, Arbitration, Judgment Enforcement, Bankruptcy, Criminal Defense
Stephen is the senior trial lawyer and founder of Le & Tran. With over many years of extensive experience, Stephen has impressive litigation, arbitration and criminal defense experience and a wealth of knowledge and deeply understanding of how Vietnam legal system, courts and authorities work. His career philosophy is “Fighting for Justice”.
He was the Winner of “Disputes Star of the Year“ awarded by AsiaLawProfiles in Hong Kong in 2017. He is endorsed as a preemminent trial lawyer of Vietnam by over 50 global corporations and highly ranked in Chambers Asia Pacific, Legal500, Benchmark Litigation, AsiaLaw Profiles for consecutive years.
Petronas (Malaysia) did endorse Stephen as the Best Trial Lawyer they have ever worked with in Vietnam up to now. Stephen is an outstanding speaker of legal seminars hosted by AmCham Vietnam and LeTran. Up to now, he did host 10 legal seminars and publish around 50 legal articles to AmCham business community. Stephen has advised and represented over 50 global corporations and over 100 individual clients in various legal matters and disputes.
In the corporate services, he did establish and master the idea that “any well trained lawyer can provide good legal advices, but only all-rounded professional can provide sound business advices while complying all the legal requirements”
- Eng Yew Chan
Chief Executive Officer at Strategic Marine
“I have had the pleasure of working with Mr Stephen Le and his team in 2018 and again in 2019, a lasting impression and what has amazed me is his professionalism and methodical approach to addressing legal issues in Vietnam. I would highly recommend Mr Stephen Le and his firm for areas of Litigation, Mergers and Acquisitions, Contracts as well as areas covering areas of various corporate legal aspects. Certainly a legal counsel of choice and legal firm to assist companies and individuals (particularly foreign corporates) when trying to navigate the Vietnamese legal environment.”;
- Kenneth Tan
Associate at Norton Rose Fullbright
“Stephen and I worked together and that experience impressed upon me Stephen’s responsiveness, tactical acumen and stellar work ethic. He is a trusted and effective lawyer to go to for legal matters.”;
- Gregory Nathan
Co-founder, Grace Skincare Clinic
“I had the pleasure of working with Stephen on several issues over the years and have always found him to be extremely bright, VERY aggressive and always to the point. He responds quickly and is always extremely honest in his opinion, even if you don’t want to hear it. There are not many people who merit the distinction of being labelled as honorable and results oriented but, in my book, he ranks with the best in protecting and caring for his clients no matter what the issue.”;
- Peiyi Tung
Taiwanese lawyer – worked with Stephen while she was with Poyuen Vietnam
“A solid lawyer who always has client’s best interest in mind.”;
- Goh Yong Ang
Former General Director of D.I.E.C Singapore Pte. Ltd
“Mr. Le did successfully assist D.I.E.C Singapore in the matters relating to debt recovery from two Vietnamese companies. Mr. Le usually approached the solutions in innovative ways and worked closedly and full-heartedly with me. It is also worth mention the level of confidence and diligence that Mr. Le demonstrated when working with me were extraordinary”;
- Nicola Connolly
Former Vice Chairwoman of EuroCham and Former General Director of Adecco Vietnam
Stephen is “the best in town”;
- Michel Borelli
Former Managing Director of MullenLowe (Vietnam)
Stephen and his team provided “all the invaluable & precise advice”;
- Penh Huynh
Former Financial Regional (SEA) Director of Bacardi
“Stephen has been very diligently and timely providing legal advice to us in Vietnam and we greatly appreciate his professionalism”;
- Samuel Scoles
Regional Director Asia, International Trade Advisory Services of White & Case Pte. Ltd
“To date, we have had very good interactions with Le & Tran and appreciate the detailed advice on various requested projects”; and
- Frederick Huynh Quan Dat
Former CEO of Etihad Airways (Vietnam)
CEO of Quatar Airways (Vietnam)
“Very impressive work that Stephen has provided”.
Representative Legal Matters :
Assisted Bacardi Martini in “winding down” operations and reducing its workforce and the defence of such corporation in subsequent labor disputes with its employees in Vietnam;
The key attorney is frequently in charge of all the Vietnam labor matters and issues of the following global corporations since 2015-2016:
– Bacardi Martini
– Marvell Technology
– PouChen Group
– Hwaseung Group
– ChingLuh Group
- In 2018, we have been assisting an employer (owner) in the claims arising in connection with the quality of the work derived from the terms of subsisting contract. The allegations are defects, incomplete work and work which does not comply with the stipulations of the contract specifications and drawings. In this case, the primary defendant is the contractor; but we also bring proceedings against other parties who have contributed to the default in workmanship. The disputed value is USD650,000.
- In 2018, we have also acted on behalf of a contractor in the payment claim. The claim is directed against the employer for payment of a reasonable remuneration by way of quantum meruit for services rendered pursuant to a contract which had never been validly executed. In this case, we have proved that although there is no contract, the employer did purportedly give the instructions for the work to be carried out.
- In 2017, in a construction dispute between our client and a sub-contractor in relation to a water supply and sanitation project, due to the large scale of the construction project, normal lawsuit at the First-Instance Court would cost a lot of time for our client. Therefore, instead of filing a lawsuit against the sub-contractor, we advise our client to file the lawsuit against the commercial bank to claim payment under the bank guarantee for advance payment (with the amount of over EUR700,000). This allows our client to quickly claim the money and completely reverse the positions of the parties, i.e. the sub-contractor has to file the lawsuit and suffer from the time-consuming litigation proceedings and expensive advance litigation fee to claim back the bank guarantee payment from our client. Then, our client can defend such lawsuit without any urgency because the money was already obtained.
- In 2017, in relation to the construction of a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, we represent a restaurant owner against a lawsuit from the contractor. The contractor claims the payment under the ground that they have finished the works required under the contract. However, after closely examining the construction site and relating documents, we show to the contractor and the First-Instance Court many important facts that were intentionally left out by the contractor such as the works have many serious defects (which requires destruction and re-construction to rectify) and the contractor did make many mistakes in the whole construction process that eventually caused serious delay to our client’s business. Together with the presentation of facts, we also submit many evidence to demonstrate the violations of the contractor, including records and pictures taken by the bailiff (the agency being authorized by the law to record facts and such records are unchallengeable at the First-Instance Court).
- In 2016, the opposition (a Mechanical Engineering and Construction Limited Liability Company) sued our client for not paying 5% of contract value (over USD4,000,000 in total) due to our blame for their unfinished maintenance tasks. With well-established tactics in analyzing the lawsuit, we figured out this claim was clearly implausible due to the opposition’s two disastrous mistakes.
1- Firstly, their lawyers seemed not to understand the arbitration process that led to their over-claim at the maximum amount (over USD590,000) without consideration of the cost they might pay. Secondly, the opposition submitted tons of documents to the arbitration (Vietnam International Arbitration Center) without pre-checking the possibly negative impacts.
2- Being fully aware of our client’s context (lack of written documents or trusted evidence), we effectively navigated the “playground” at our own advantages by utilizing the opposition’s documents as a trusted verification for our arguments. Also, on counter-claiming the opposition, we deeply understood every step in an arbitration procedure that we decided to selectively claim them only for their bad works with an aim to our definite success at the minimum legal costs. We did successfully represent the client in disclaiming USD270,000 in the total amount of USD590,000 claimed by the opposition, i.e. the final amount in the judgement was USD320,000 for the opposition.
- In 2016, our client’s contractor filed a lawsuit at the First-Instance Court to claim the remaining construction payment and interest under a contract valued over USD2,700,000. The contractor requests the payment of approximately USD640,000. When defending our client, we have fully reviewed the works performed by the contractor and found that there are some works (valued at around USD240,000) was not approved by our client prior to the construction and as a result, should not be entitled to payment from our client. Furthermore, we file a counter-claim against the contractor for delay in construction and request the payment of compensation and penalty of over USD1,200,000.
- In 2016, a firm of consulting engineers was employed to design and supervise the structural works for the construction of a hotel (our client is the developer). After completing the structural design, it was found that the structure was under-designed. The engineers corrected the design on the structural drawings and submitted the corrected drawings to the relevant building authorities. Unfortunately, the uncorrected drawings were issued to the builders and, as a result, the works as built developed serious structural problems. These required remedial and strengthening works and delayed the completion of the project by 101 days. We have assist our client in claiming all the damages including expenses for remedial works, interest on various loans incurred by our client during the period of delay as well as loss of rental income on the hotel. The FirstInstance Court allowed the claim for expenses for remedial works and interest but rejected the claim for loss of rental income in respect of the hotel. On appeal, the Appeal Court upheld the First-Instance Court’s judgement of damages for most of the claim, but set aside the award of interest. The total dispute value was USD2,500,000.
- In 2016, we represented a main contractor for a commercial building who had entered into a contract to secure the supply of ready mixed concrete for the project. Some months after the parties had executed the contract, the supplier suspended the supply of the ready mixed concrete. The supplier relied on a clause in the contract which provided that “in the event of any circumstances constituting force majeure, which is defined as Act of God, or due to any cause beyond the supplier’s control, such as market raw material shortages, unforeseen plant breakdowns or labor disputes, the duty of the affected party to perform its obligations shall be suspended or limited until such circumstances ceases.” The Appeal Court held that there can be no general rule as to what constitutes a situation of force majeure: whether such a situation arises and where it does arise, the rights and obligations that follow, would all depend on what the parties had provided in their contract. The expression force majeure is likely to be restricted to supervening events which arise without the fault of either party and for which neither of them has undertaken responsibility. In this case, the Appeal Court was of the view that the particular force majeure clause would not have excused the supplier from liability because the supplier could not show that the shortage or raw materials or the plant breakdowns were beyond its control.
- In 2015, we represented a supplier against the main contractors were employed for the construction of a water treatment works. As originally designed, the works included the installation of pre-cast concrete drainage components which were manufactured off-site. The main contractors duly placed an order with a supplier. After the supplier had manufactured about a quarter of the total quantity of the components, there was a change of specification in the main contract and the engineer gave instructions for this part of the works to be omitted. The supplier claimed for loss of profit on the components which were not delivered and the cost of the mold constructed to manufacture the order. The main contractor passed the claim to the owners who paid for the cost of the mold but refused to pay for the loss of the profit. The Appeal Court held that fair valuation must necessarily include compensating the main contractor for a loss of profit payment made to the supplier in respect of the cancellation of the order consequent upon the omission.
- In 2016, we represented our Client in taking the legal actions against its partner, which is also the director and legal representative of the joint venture between the parties. At that time, because our Client did not engage much in the business of the joint venture yet and wished to claim back the investment; we filed a lawsuit against the partner for his serious violations in both the set-up and operation of the joint venture and request the court to cancel the joint venture agreement. The court agreed with our arguments and ordered the partner to return the investment to our Client.
- In 2016 – 2017, we represented some minor shareholders in filing a lawsuit at the court to void many resolutions made by the major shareholders and the Board of Directors, which is relating to the new share offerings that dilute our Clients’ shares. We submitted to the court that although the resolutions were passed by major shareholders, the procedures were not conducted in compliance with the law and our Clients were not duly served with notices or given chance to speak at the shareholders’ meeting. As a result, the resolutions were voided due to violations of the procedures required by the law and the Charter.
- In 2017, we represented our Client in a dispute between the company and its former director and deputy director. The company filed a lawsuit to claim back the money transferred to the director and deputy director for implementing the investment projects of the company. We represented the director in this case. The deputy director and the shareholders controlling the company teamed up to blame all responsibilities on our Client. We have proved to the court that our Client did use the money he received for the investment projects as passed by the shareholders’ meeting; and the money received by the deputy director was for a separate issue which is not relating to our Client, such money should be responsible by only the deputy director.
- In 2017, we represented our Client in a shareholder dispute with its partner. The partner filed a lawsuit against our Client to void a transaction with the total value of around USD1,000,000 under the ground of conflicts of interest. The partner argued that there was a shareholder holding shares in both sides (which happened due to the close relationship between both sides) and that shareholder should not be allowed to vote when passing the transaction. The arguable issue was whether the transaction was for the benefits of the company or was the misconduct and abuse committed by the major shareholder. We have successfully argued that the transaction was reasonable, fair and good for the company at that time; and as a result, the court made the judgment in favor of our Client.
- In 2017, we represented our Client in handling a shareholder dispute, where the minor shareholders questioned our Client (the major shareholder) about many transactions in the past. The issue was critical at that time because there was an upcoming shareholders’ meeting and the dispute could disrupt the meeting. We represented our Client in discussing with the minor shareholders prior to the shareholders’ meeting and explained to them that transactions were necessary for the company’s survival; and after that, assisted our Client in successfully holding the shareholders’ meeting to pass many important issues.
- Advised and represented the plaintiff (a foreign company) in the proceedings against the infringement which was conducted by two Vietnamese companies in manufacturing and trading a medicine with the similar brand name to that of the plaintiff. The lawsuit was filed at People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City against these two companies for intellectual property infringement, and requested for compensation, disposal of infringing goods and public apology.
- Advised and represented a foreign company in the proceedings against the infringement that was conducted by a Vietnamese company. By filing a request letter to the Inspectorate of Ministry of Science and Technology, the infringing company was imposed a fine of 10 million VND as the administrative sanction for the use of misleading information for competitive purpose. In addition, all infringing goods were disposed.
- Advised and represented a Vietnamese company in filing a letter to the Inspectorate of Ministry of Science and Technology to request an inspection and sanction against its competitor’s infringement, which was related to its industrial property. The Inspectorate concluded that products manufactured by the competitor have many similar elements in packaging design compared to that of our client. However, finally, both companies agreed to settle the dispute themselves.
- Advised and represented a Vietnamese company in the dispute which was arisen regarding industrial designs of massage cream produced by our client against an opposing Vietnamese company. Our client registered to protect the industrial design of its product. After its application was publicized, while waiting for the license issued by the competent authority, the other company was granted a copyright certificate for its similar product, though the design and packaging of the opposing party’s product was similar to our client’s product.
Other types of legal matters
- Successfully represented a Singaporean construction corporation in a tax litigation against the Ho Chi Minh City Taxation Department;
- Advised a car manufacturer to finance a business cooperation in Da Nang;
- Advised and represented a US corporation in a litigation against a foreign bank in Vietnam;
- Advised and represented an Indonesian steel corporation in successfully claiming US$340,000 from a Vietnamese steel corporation;
- Advised a global law firm in Singapore in an international trade compliance project relating to Standard Regime in Vietnam;
- Advised a foreign finance corporation in a banking project with a Vietnamese local bank for banking retailing in Vietnam;
- Acted on behalf of several foreign clients in coordinating and managing anticounterfeiting and anti- piracy raid actions against IP infringers in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City;
- Assisted a Vietnamese State Corporation in successfully challenging a claim of US$1,000,000 filed by a Vietnamese company;
- Assisted foreign clients in executing internal compliance audit activities to assess the compliance practices of its Vietnam entities;
- Assisted Singaporean traders in recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Vietnam;
- Advised a multinational electrical power and heavy machinery company on conducting internal compliance assessments of its cross border activities;
- Assisted a Singaporean company in successfully recovering debt in excess of US$360,000 from a Vietnamese company;
- Advised a major Korean media corporation in the acquisition of shares of the largest Vietnamese film operator in Vietnam;
- Assisted a leading film distributor and exhibitor in defending against allegations of the abuse of market dominance for film distribution in the Vietnamese market, and assisted with investigations of the client by the Competition Administrative Authority;
- Assisted a USA State corporation in handling corporate compliance audits/investigations into purchase contracts, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and Vietnam’s Anti- Corruption Law;
- Advised a 100% foreign invested enterprise in the two loan projects of US$20,000,000 and US$5,000,000 provided by International Finance Corporation;
- Advised members of the Vietnam Leather & Footwear Association (LEFASO) on an internationally publicised footwear anti-dumping case that went before the European Commission;
- Assisting a Singaporean investor in the criminal proceedings against a Vietnamese investor for her tricks in calling investment into Vietnam;
- Assisting an American seafood corporation in the criminal proceedings against its two Vietnamese managers for the crime of appropriating property through swindling;
- Assisting a Vietnamese logistic company in investigating the signs of the crime on abusing trust in order to appropriate property;
- Assisted an insurance company in challenging the malpractice by the police in making the accident investigation report to help the insured to claim the insurance compensation;
- Assisted a Canadian family in working with Ho Chi Minh City Police to investigate the facts and cause of the death of their son in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam;
- Assisted a foreign corporation in challenging and investigating the acts of extorting property by a ground of individual customers;
- Represented a leading multinational electronics products company in defending against allegations of tax evasion by the Vietnam customs authorities and developing legal strategies that prevented criminalization; and
- Assisted a Canadian company in the criminal proceedings against a Vietnamese individual and his father for the crime of abusing trust in order to appropriate property when they invited the company to invest in Vietnam.
Duty of confidentiality
All information concerning clients must be hold in strict confidentiality and safeguarded. Yet the additional information of the case only is available upon request.