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Recovery of sunken property

Chapter XII
RECOVERY OF SUNKEN PROPERTY

Article 197.- Sunken property
1. Sunken property means seagoing vessels, military vessels, public-duty vessels, fishing vessels, inland water crafts, hydroplanes, cargo or other objects sunken in the internal waters or territorial sea of Vietnam or floating on the sea or washed ashore the Vietnamese coast.
2. Dangerous sunken property means property that obstructs or imperils maritime shipping activities or marine resources; threatens people’s life and health; pollutes the environment.

Article 198.- Obligations of owners of sunken property
1. The owner of sunken property shall be obliged to recover his/her sunken property and bear all expenses arising therefrom, except for the case specified in Clause 2 of this Article. Where the owner of sunken property fails to recover the sunken property or cannot recover it within the time limit as requested, competent state agencies defined in Article 205 of this Code shall decide on the recovery of such property.
2. Where the sunken property is a segoing vessel, cargo or other objects from a seagoing vessel, the shipowner shall be obliged to recover the sunken property and bear all expenses arising therefrom. The manager, the operator of the seagoing vessel shall bear joint responsibility for such recovery and payment of expenses arising therefrom.
3. Where the sunken property causes environmental pollution, its owner shall have to take all measures to avert and limit the damage resulting therefrom and compensate for the environmental pollution damage according to the provisions of law.

Article 199.- Time limit for notification and recovery of sunken property
Except for the case specified in Article 200 of this Code, the time limit for notification and recovery of sunken property is specified as follows:
1. Within thirty days as from the date the property is sunk, its owner must notify the competent state agency specified in Article 2005 of this Code of the recovery and the expected date for completion of the recovery.
2. Within thirty days as from the date of receipt of the above-said notification, the competent sate agency specified in Article 2005 of this Code shall decide on the expected time for completion of recovery operations or fix the time limit within which the owner of the sunken property must complete recovery operations, provided that this time limit shall not exceed one year.

Article 200.- Recovery of dangerous sunken property
1. Immediately after an incident occurs, the owner of dangerous sunken property shall be obliged to notify it to the director of the port authority in the nearest place and must recover or destroy suc property within the time limit as decided by the Transport Minister. Where the owner fails to perform the recovery or the person designated by the owner is unable to recover the property within the specified time limit, the Transport Minister shall organize the recovery and fix for the owner a time limit for reimbursement of the costs incurred therefrom.
The owner must compensate for related losses and shall be penalized according to the provisions of law even when he/she has lost the ownership over his/her sunken property under the provisions of Clause 1, Article 202 of this Code.
2. After thirty days of receipt pf the notification of the recovery of his/her property, if the owner fails to claim delivery of the property or to pay the related costs within the fixed time limit, the Transport Minister shall decide to sell the property by auction. Where the dangerous sunken property is of an easy-to-deteriorate kind, the Transport Minister shall decide to sell it by auction immediately after its recovery. Such auction shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of law.
3. Out of the proceeds from the auction, the balance must be deposited at a bank after deducting the costs of the recovery, expenses for the preservation and auction of the property as well as other reasonable expenses specified in Clause 2 of this Article, and notified to the owner of the property; after one hundred eighty days counting from the date of such notification, if the owner of the property fails to receive the balance, it and its interest shall be remitted into state coffers.
4. Where the proceeds obtained from the auction of the sunken property as provided for in Clause 3 of this Article is not enough to cover the costs and expenses incurred, the owner of the sunken property must fully pay the deficit within the time limit fixed by the agency that has decided on the recovery of such sunken property; if the owner of the sunken property is unable to pay or his unknown, the deficit shall be covered with the state budget.

Article 201.- Pre-emptive right to recovery of sunken property
Vietnamese organizations and individuals shall be prioritized to conclude contracts for recovery of property sunk in the Vietnamese internal waters or territorial sea.

Article 202.- Loss of ownership over sunken property
1. The owner of the sunken property shall lose his/her ownership over such property if he/she fails to notify or recover the property within the time limit specified in Articles 199 and 200 of this Code and, in the case, such sunken property shall automatically belong the Vietnamese state.
2. In the case stated in Clause 1 of this Article, competent state agencies specified in Article 205 of this Code shall decide on the disposal of the sunken property.
3. The owner of the dangerous sunken property who has lost his/her ownership under the provisions of Clause 1 of this Article shall still have to compensate for any damage and be penalized under the provision of law.

Article 203.- Disposal of sunken property which is incidentally recovered
1. Immediately after incidentally recovering property sunken in the Vietnamese internal waters or territorial sea or transporting incidentally recovered property into the Vietnamese internal waters or territorial sea, the recoverer must notify competent state agencies specified in Article 205 of this Code the time, place and relevant circumstances of the recovery of the property; protect such property till the delivery thereof to its owner or competent state agencies and, if conditions permit, notify the owner of the property thereof.
2. Where the recovered property mentioned in Clause 1 of this Article if of an easy-to-deteriorate kind, or where its preservation requires excessive costs, the recoverer may dispose of the property according to the provisions of Clauses 2 and 3, Article 200 of this Code.
3. Within fifteen days from the date of notification of the recovery, if the owner of the property fails to claim delivery of the property or to pay the amounts due, the recoverer shall be obliged to deliver the recovered property to competent state agencies specified in Article 205 of this Cose.
4. Within sixty days from the date of notification of the recovery, if the owner of the property mentioned in Clause 3 of this Article fails to have any actions to protect his/her interests, competent state agencies specified in Article 205 of this Code may dispose of the property according to the provisions of Clauses 2 and 3, Article 200 of this Code.
5. In the case specified in Clause 1 of this Article, the recoverer shall be entitled to a recovery remuneration and the reimbursement of related costs and expenses, the amount of which shall be determined on the principles applied to maritime salvage remuneration.
6. Where the owner of the sunken property is unknown, the recovered property shall be disposed of according to the provisions of law

Article 204.- Disposal of property floating on the sea or washed ashore
1. The disposal of property floating on the sea or washed ashore shall comply with the provisions of Clauses 1,2, 3, 4 and 6, Article 203 of this Code.
2. Those who have found, salved or participated in salving another person’s property floating on the sea shall be entitled to a remuneration on the principles applied to maritime salvage remuneration, provide that he/she has notified the owner of the property of his/her claim not later than the time of delivery of the property.
3. Those who have found and preserved property washed ashore shall be entitled to a reward and the reimbursement of preservation expenses not exceeding 30% of the market value of such property, provided that he/she has notified the owner of the property of his/her claim not later than the time of delivery of the property.

Article 205.- Competence to dispose of sunken property
1. The Transport Ministry shall assume the prime responsibility for organizing the disposal of dangerous sunken property.
2. The Cultural and Information Ministry shall assume the prime responsibility for organizing the disposal of sunken property being cultural heritage.
3. The Defense Ministry shall assume the prime responsibility for organizing the disposal of sunken property related to defense and security and of property sunken in military zones.
4. The People’s Committees of provinces or centrally-run cities shall assume the prime responsibility for organizing the disposal of sunken property other than those mentioned in Clauses 1, 2 and 3 of this Article.5. The Government shall provide in detail for the disposal of sunken property.