Vice Chair of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association, Michael Jackson, reflects on international collaboration following a recent trip to Vietnam on behalf of the Association.

In an increasingly interconnected world, the significance of international collaboration cannot be overstated. While systems and best practices may vary between borders, all enforcement professionals share a common goal; to develop and maintain a just society for all.

In my role of Vice Chair of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA), I recently had the privilege of representing enforcement in England and Wales at a conference in Vietnam focused on asset recovery and enforcement efficiency. Alongside our Treasurer, Alan Smith, we shared insights from our extensive experience in the profession, contributing to a valuable exchange of knowledge and best practices.

Our involvement in this collaboration began in September 2023, when we were invited by Vietnam Ministry of Justice and the British Embassy to join a working group to share best practices as UK experts. The culmination of this effort was the Workshop to Improve the Efficiency of Asset Recovery in Corruption and Economic Cases in Vietnam, held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 14, 2024. At this event, Alan and I delivered a full day of speeches to over 100 government officials, parts of which were later broadcast on the television news network.

In an era where technology allows seamless connectivity across borders, sharing expertise and learning from one another's experiences becomes imperative. The workshop provided a platform for productive discussions on various aspects of enforcement, from different enforcement methods to professional standards and addressing vulnerability.

What struck me most during our discussions was the commonality in our objectives despite the differences in our systems. Whether operating within a central state-run system as in Vietnam or a private sector driven one as in England and Wales, the overarching aim remains consistent: to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness in enforcement procedures.

Both jurisdictions are committed to improving systems. Not just recovering money or goods but ensuring equitable treatment of all parties involved and optimising the customer experience. However, it was clear that the aim in Vietnam is to improve their systems whilst balancing powers which we don't have here, such as access to the judgment debtors’ bank accounts.

In Ho Chi Min, I was particularly impressed by the way in which their enforcement system was organised, and emphasis placed on staff welfare within enforcement services. The dedication to employee well-being underscores a holistic approach to enforcement, recognising the pivotal role played by personnel. It's a lesson worth noting and potentially emulating in our own practices.

The success of events like the workshop underscores the importance of ongoing collaboration between nations. As Vice Minister of Justice Mai Luong Khoi rightly pointed out, such initiatives contribute significantly to the judicial reform efforts of participating countries. Moreover, they serve as milestones in international relations, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation with the potential to extend beyond the realm of enforcement.

Looking ahead, I am optimistic about the prospects of continued collaboration between HCEOA and our counterparts in Vietnam. The relationships forged and knowledge exchanged during this journey lay a solid foundation for future endeavours. By leveraging the insights gained from each other's experiences, we can collectively strive towards more robust, transparent, and equitable enforcement mechanisms.

International collaboration is not just a strategic choice but a moral imperative in our search for justice and efficiency. As we navigate the complexities of enforcement in an increasingly interconnected world, let us seize every opportunity to learn from one another and forge stronger bonds of cooperation across borders.

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