Having one’s parked scooter stolen in Vietnam can be an arduous experience, as the parties concerned often play the blame game to avoid paying the compensation.
When visiting stores in the country, with the exception of shopping malls where electronic parking lots are available, it is a common practice to just hand over one’s scooter to a security guard in exchange for a written or pre-printed parking paper or card.
Though not a regular incident, losing one’s parked scooter can be quite troublesome, as the store and the company that provides the security service are oftentimes reluctant to take responsibility for the loss.
Tran Trung Kien, who lives in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City, had his Honda SH scooter stolen on July 12, when he was visiting a coffee bookstore in District 6.
When Kien asked the bookstore for compensation, its owner told him to talk to the security company that provided the service, as the security guards in charge of keeping a watch over his scooter were not his employees.
However, the security company has since delayed giving him the sum of VND45 million (US$2,011), saying Kien needed to acquire a confirmation paper from police officers about the origin of his vehicle.
According to Pham Hoai Nam, a member of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, Kien handing over his scooter to the security guards was considered equivalent to establishing a contract, which was legally binding and would require the keeper of the asset to compensate if the property goes missing under his watch.
However, Nam added, citing Vietnamese laws, that individuals and legal entities are held responsible for the compensation for any damage caused by their employees while performing any assigned tasks.
In this case, therefore, the security company is responsible for paying the sum to Kien, unless an agreement stating otherwise is reached between the firm and the security guards in question.
The amount of compensation is either the full value of the lost property or otherwise agreed upon by the parties concerned, Nam said.
“Since this is a civil case, the owner of the vehicle only needs to present relevant papers proving his ownership to demand compensation,” said Nguyen Kieu Hung, a Ho Chi Minh City-based lawyer.
“Police are only referred to when criminal signs are present, such as if the vehicle is suspected to have been stolen,” Hung added.
According to Phu Quoc Tuan, deputy chief justice of the People’s Court of District 3, if the parties fail to reach an agreement, the owner of the property can file a lawsuit to the court to demand damages.
Tuan noted that the plaintiff should prepare a number of relevant papers before bringing the case to court, including a report about the lost property, vehicle ownership certificates (blue cards), ID cards or passports, and residence registration.
The parking card could also serve as a contract with legal value in court, Tuan added.
However, if the store where one’s vehicle is lost does not provide parking cards, they can still claim the compensation by asking eyewitnesses to testify before the court, or by proving that it is a common practice for the store not to give customers parking cards, a lawyer suggests.