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Extra-Contractual Liabilities under Ethiopian Law


     By Fikadu Asfaw and Associates Law Office

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According to the Ethiopian law a person will be liable for the damage he causes into another by offense, even if there is no any under taking on his offense. This means, the person will be liable to another person on which he calls damage without any contractual relation between them. In addition a person is liable for the damage he causes to another by an activity in which he engages or by an object he possesses.

Not only these, but a person is responsible if a third party for whom he is answerable in law includes a liability arising out of an offense or resulting from the law.

Generally, there are three types of extra- contractual liabilities.
1. Liability arising from an offense
2. Liability in the absence of an offense and
3. Liability for the action of others.

Let us see them one by one

1. Liability Arising from an Offense

This is a liability that arises when a person causes damage to another by an offense. The offense may consist in an intentional act or in negligence. According to civil code of Ethiopia a person commits an offense where he acts or refrains from acting in a manner or in conditions which offend morality or public order. Professional fault is one of the offenses that entail liability. A person will be liable where due regard being had to scientific facts or the accepted rule of the practice of his profession; he is guilty of imprudence or of negligence constituting definite ignorance of his duties. A person commits an offense where he acts with intent to injure another whether the seeks personal gain from his acts or not. Abuse of power, infringement of a law and non- performance of a contract are offenses that results liability. Person who committed the above offenses will be liable to the injured person with out any contractual agreement between them.

2. Liability in the Absence of an Offense

This is a type of liability, which a person will be liable for any damage he deliberately causes to another in ordered to save himself or another from an imminent damage to person or property. And in liability without an offense, a person may be the owner of an animal. If that animal causes any damage, the owner will be liable, not withstanding that it has eluded his control accidentally, or the damage caused was unforeseeable.

The owner of a building shall be liable for any damage due to the building even where the damage was unforeseeable. The person who is liable may not commit any offense by himself but in such cases he is held liable in the absence of an offense. The occupier of building shall be liable for any damage caused by objects falling from it. Sometimes, not only one party should be held liable. For example, where two motor vehicles are in collision, each of the vehicles shall be deemed to have contributed equally to the accident. The owner of each vehicle shall bear half of the total amount of the damage resulting from the accident.

3. Mode and Extent of Compensation

In Extra- contractual liabilities, the liable person should compensate the injured party. There are three types of compensations, material, moral and others. For material damage, it should be compensated by awarding the victim an equivalent amount in damages. if the exact amount of the damage can not be calculated, the court shall fix it equitably, taking into account the ordinary course of events and the measure taken by the injured party, at no indemnity may be awarded in respect of damage of which the very existence, and not only the amount, is doubtful.

Compensation should be awarded for moral injury not for material injury only. Any offense that caused amoral injury to a person should be compensated. For physical assault, unlawful restraint, defamation, injury to the rights of spouses Assault on property, injury to a wife, indecent assault, all these offenses need moral compensation. Other modes of compensation may include restitution for example the court may order the return of property to the plaintiff which has been improperly taken away from him. If it the case of events against the honor or reputation of an individual or individuals, the court may order such publicity to made at the defendants expense as likely to counter the effect of the dealings,

4. Liability for the Action of Others

This is the third types of extra-contractual liabilities. The father is liable under the law where his minor child incurs liability. The employer shall be liable under the law where one of his employees incurs liability in the discharge of his duties. The above two provisions show that if a person is liable for another person by law or agreement he is bound to compensate the injured party.

Any person may bring action for compensation to the court if injured extra-contractually. But the action should be brought within two years from the time at which he suffered the damage for which he is claiming compensation. The victim of the injury should establish the amount and prove the circumstances which render the defendant liable to make it good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fikadu Asfaw Law Office
Fikadu Law Office is an Ethiopia law office providing advisory and litigation services to corporate and private clients in Ethiopia and throughout the world. The Law Office is licensed to practice throughout Ethiopia at all level of courts including Federal First Instance Court, Federal High Court, Federal Supreme Court, Cassation Court and any other similar legal tribunals.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.



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