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Southeast Asian Legal Research Guide (ARCHIVE): Introduction to Lao PDR & its Legal System








Image Source: Wikipedia

Doing Business in Lao PDR

Lao PDR Legal Research Guides

Guide Author

This Research Guide is maintained by Robin Gardner, MLS Academic Research Service, Melbourne Law School. Please contact Robin at with corrections, suggestions or comments about the Guide.

Lao PDR Legal System

Laos inherited a typical civil law-based legal system from the French colonial administrators. The original civil codes took Lao customary law into account. After independence, Lao law remained undeveloped until the early 1990s - since then Lao PDR's ambitious plan to develop and revise its laws has seen at least 120 new or modernised laws, according to the Official Gazette website. The revised laws follow the typical forms and approach of French civil law, but foreign models are also followed. Customary law is widely practiced by ethnic Laotian peoples, but not formally recognised as part of State law.
Source: Foreign Law Guide - Laos - Legal History

The Foreign Law Guide (UniMelb staff & student access) provides an excellent overview of the legal history and legislative and judicial systems in Lao PDR. The Lao PDR chapter was last updated in 2012.

The Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia on HEIN Online (UniMelb staff & student access), although a little dated (2001) contains an excellent and detailed chapter on the Lao PDR legal system.

Sources of Law

The primary source of law is legislation. There are two types of legislation in Lao PDR: legislation of general application and legislation of specific application. See more detail on the Globalex guide. International treaties and agreements that Lao PDR has ratified are also a source of law. Jurisprudence is not recognised as a source of law.

Rule of Law

Image source: MBDS

General Country Information

The Lao People's Democratic Republic is a socialist State under the one party system of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. It is one of the few remaining communist regimes in the world. Formerly part of French Indochina, Laos gained its independence in 1955. In 1975 a constitutional monarchy was replaced by the current system of government.

The following resources include general country information - history, demographics, economy, politics and government etc.

Laos Country Review (UniMelb staff & student access) - an annually updated detailed report of demographic, social, political, economic, business, investment, cultural and environmental information. This is an excellent and up to date source of information on the history and government of Lao PDR, and includes information on freedoms, human rights, status of women etc.

Europa World Plus (UniMelb staff & student access) - use the Countries/Territories tab on the top menu to find information on Lao PDR.

The Human Rights in ASEAN Online Platform (open access) - Lao PDR country information.

The CIA World Factbook - Laos (open access) includes country information in 80 topic areas under the main headings of Geography, People and Society, Economy, Energy, Communications, Military & Security, Transportation, and Transnational Issues.

Australian Government DFAT Laos Country Brief and Country Fact Sheet (open access).