Tuesday, August 2, 2011

PROCLAMATION NO. 25/1996 FEDERAL COURTS PROCLAMATION


PROCLAMATION NO. 25/1996
FEDERAL COURTS PROCLAMATION
WHEREAS, in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, judicial power is vested in both the Federal Government and the Regions;
WHEREAS, it is found necessary to determine the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts on the basis of the Constitution;
NOW, THEREFORE, in accordance with Article 55(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, it is hereby proclaimed as follows:
PART ONE
Genral
 
1. Short title
This Proclamation may be cited as the "Federal Courts Proclamation No. 25/1996." 2. Definitions In this Proclamation: 1) "Officials of the Federal Government" means members of the House of Peoples' Representatives and of the House of the Federation, officials of the Federal Government above ministerial rank, ministers, judges of the Federal Supreme Court and other officials of the Federal government of equivalent rank; 2) "Employees of the Federal Government" includes all employees, other than those referred to under sub-Article (1) hereof, engaged in the activities of the Federal Government;
3) "Laws of the Federal government" includes all previous laws in force which are not inconsistent with the Constitution and relating to matters that fall within the competence of the Federal Government as specified in the Constitution.
4) "Federal Courts" means the Federal Supreme Court, the Federal High Court and the Federal First Instance Court;
5) "Person" means a natural or juridical person.
PART TWO
Common Jurisdiction of Federal Courts
 
3. Principle
Federal Courts shall have jurisdiction over: 1) cases arising under the Constitution, Federal Laws and International Treaties; 2) parties specified in Federal Laws;
3) places specified in the Constitution or in Federal Laws.
 
4. Criminal Jurisdiction Federal Courts shall have jurisdiction over the following criminal cases: 1) offences against the Constitutional order or against the internal security of the state; 2) offences against foreign states;
3) offences against the law of nations;
4) offences against the fiscal and economic interests of the Federal Government;
5) offences regarding counterfeit currency;
6) offences regarding forgery of instruments of the Federal Government;
7) offences regarding the security and freedom of communication services operating within more than one Region or at the international level;
8) offences against the safety of aviation;
9) offences regarding foreign nationals;
10) offences regarding illicit trafficking of dangerous drugs;
11) offences falling under the jurisdiction of courts of different Regions or under the jurisdiction of both the Federal and Regional Courts as well as concurrent offences;
12) offences committed by officials and employees of the Federal Government in connection with their official responsibilities or duties.
5. Civil Jurisdiction Federal Courts shall have jurisdiction over the following civil cases;
1) cases to which a Federal Government organ is a party; 2) suits between persons permanently residing in different Regions;
3) cases regarding the liability of officials or employees of the Federal Government in connection with their official responsibilities or duties;
4) cases to which a foreign national is a party;
5) suits involving matters of nationality;
6) suits relating to business organizations registered or formed under the jurisdiction of Federal Government organs;
7) suits regarding negotiable instruments;
8) suits relating to patent, literary and artistic-ownership rights;
9) suits regarding insurance policy;
10) application for Habeas Corpus.
6. Substantive Laws to be Applied by Federal Courts 1) Federal Courts shall settle cases or disputes, submitted to them within their jurisdiction on the basis of: (a) Federal laws and international treaties; (b) Regional laws where the cases relate to same; 2) Regional laws to be applied pursuant to sub-Article (1) (b) hereof shall not be applicable where they are inconsistent with Federal laws and international treaties. 3) Where a case brought before them gives rise to issues of Constitutional interpretation, Federal courts shall refer the case to the Council of Constitutional Inquiry prior to giving decision on the matter. 7. Procedural Laws to be Applied by Federal Courts The Criminal and Civil Procedure Codes as well as other relevant laws in force shall apply with respect to matters not provided for under this Proclamation insofar as they are not inconsistent therewith.
PART THREE
Jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court
 
8. First Instance Jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court
The Federal Supreme Court shall have exclusive first instance jurisdiction over the following: 1) offences for which officials of the Federal Government are held liable in connection with their official responsibility:
2) without prejudice to international diplomatic law and custom, offences for which foreign ambassadors, consuls as well as representatives of international organizations and foreign states are held liable;
3) application for change of venue from one Federal High Court to another or to itself, in accordance with the law.
9. Appellate Jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court The Federal Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction over:
1) decisions of the Federal High Court rendered in its first instance jurisdiction; 2) decisions of the Federal High Court rendered in its appellate jurisdiction in variation of the decision of the Federal First Instance Court.
10. Power of Cassation of the Federal supreme Court In cases where they contain fundamental error of law, the Federal supreme Court, shall have the power of cassation over:
1) final decisions of the Federal High Court rendered in its appellate jurisdiction; 2) final decisions of the regular division of the Federal Supreme Court;
3) final decisions of the Regional Supreme Court rendered as a regular division or in its appellate jurisdiction.
PART FOUR
Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court and First Instance Court
 
11. First Instance Civil Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court
1) The Federal High Court shall have first instance jurisdiction over the following civil cases involving an amount in excess of Birr five hundred thousand (500,000); (a) without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court under article 8 of this Proclamation, federal civil cases submitted pursuant to Articles 3 and 5 herein; (b) other civil cases arising in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. 2) Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-Article 1(a) hereof, the Federal High Court shall have first instance jurisdiction over the following civil cases: (a) cases regarding private international law; (b) cases regarding nationality;
(c) application regarding the enforcement of foreign judgements or decisions;
(d) applications for change of venue from one Federal First Instance Court to another or to itself, in accordance with the law.
12. First Instance Criminal Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court The Federal High Court shall have first instance jurisdiction over the following criminal cases:
1) criminal cases specified under sub-Article (1), (2), (3), (8) and (10) of article 4 hereof; 2) other criminal cases arising in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa and falling under the jurisdiction of the High Court pursuant to other laws in force.
13. Appellate Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court The Federal High Court shall have appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the Federal First Instance Court. 14. Civil Jurisdiction of the Federal first Instance Court The Federal First Instance Court shall have jurisdiction over the following civil cases involving an amount not in excess of Birr five hundred thousand (500,000) or over civil cases the value of which cannot be expressed in money: 1) without prejudice to the jurisdictions of the Federal Supreme court and High court under Article 8 and sub-Article (2) of Article 11 hereof, federal civil cases submitted pursuant to articles 3 and 5 of this Proclamation; 2) without prejudice to judicial power vested in other organs by law, other civil cases arising in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. 15. Criminal Jurisdiction of the Federal First Instance Court
    The Federal First Instance Court shall have jurisdiction over the following criminal cases:
1) criminal cases specified under sub-Article (4) (5) (6) (7) and (9) of article 4 hereof; 2) without prejudice to judicial power vested in other organs by law, other criminal cases arising in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa as well as other criminal cases under the jurisdictions of Awraja and Woreda Courts pursuant to other laws in force.
 
PART FIVE
The Presidents of Federal Courts
 
16. Powers and Duties of the President of the Federal Supreme Court
1) The President of the Federal Supreme Court shall be responsible for the administration of Federal Courts in accordance with the law. 2) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-Article (1) hereof, the President of the Federal Supreme Court shall:
(a) in consultation with the Federal High Court and the Federal First Instance Court, place, assign and administer judges of Federal Courts; (b) in consultation with the Presidents of the Federal High Court and the Federal First Instance Court, employ personnel necessary for Federal Courts;
(c) prepare and submit to the House of Peoples' Representatives the work plan and budget of Federal Courts and implement same upon approval, forward his opinion on requests for budgetary subsidy to regional Courts exercising federal jurisdiction by delegation;
(d) cause the publication of the law journal of the Federal Supreme Court;
(e) cause the preparation of statements regarding the activities of Federal Courts and the submission of reports on the activities of regional courts concerning Federal cases, as supported by statistical data;
(f) facilitate conditions for the education and training of judges and other personnel;
(g) in consultation with Regional Courts, work out ways for improving the records management and general practices of Regional Courts as relating to federal cases heard thereat;
(h) submit, to the House of Peoples' Representatives, researched reports on the judicial activities of Federal Courts;
(i) cause the selection and publication of instructive judgements and decisions of the year;
(j) organize the public defence office;
(k) perform such other duties as may be entrusted to him by law.
17. The Vice-President of the Federal Supreme Court The Vice-President of the Federal Supreme Court shall:
1) discharge duties to be assigned to him by the President; 2) serve in the President's stead, while he is absent.
18. Powers and Duties of the Presidents of the Federal High Court and First Instance Court The President of each Court shall: 1) represent the court:
2) administer personnel of the Court subject to directives to be given by the President of the Federal Supreme Court;
3) cause the preparation of statement, supported by statistical data, regarding the activities of the Court;
4) prepare and submit to the President of the Federal Supreme Court the work plan and budget of the Court and implement same upon approval;
5) cause the selection, and submission to the President of the Federal Supreme Court, of instructive judgements and decisions of the year;
6) submit to the President of the Federal Supreme Court periodic reports on the activities of the Court;
7) perform such other duties as may be entrusted to him by law.
PART SIX
Federal Court Structure and the Administration of Justice
 
19. Judges and Other Personnel of the Federal Supreme Court
1) The Federal Supreme Court shall have a President, a Vice-President and the necessary judges. 2) The Federal Supreme Court shall have the personnel necessary for its function. 20. Divisions of the Federal Supreme Court 1) The Federal Supreme Court shall have: (a) a Civil Division; (b) a Criminal Division; and
(c) a Labour Division.
2) There shall sit a presiding judge and two other judges, in each division. 3) The President or the Vice-President of the Federal Supreme Court may preside over any division.
21. Division with not less than Five judges 1) The President of the Federal Supreme Court may on his own initiative or suggestion by a division of the Federal Supreme court or where one of the parties so petitions direct a case to be heard by a division with not less than five judges sitting. 2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-Article (1) of this Article, the following cases shall be heard by a division with not less than five judges sitting:
(a) cases falling under the first instance jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court; (b) cases relating to a provision of law having caused a fundamental difference in interpretation amongst division of the Federal Supreme Court;
(c) cases referred to under article 10 of this Proclamation, where determined that they be heard in cassation.
22. Application Procedure for Cassation 1) A decision shall be heard in cassation by the Federal Supreme Court, pursuant to article 10 herein, subject to prior ruling as to the existence of fundamental error of law qualifying for cassation, by a division wherein three judges of the Federal Supreme Court sit. 2) The applicant for a hearing in cassation shall state the reasons for alleging the decision to contain a fundamental error of law.
3) The applicant shall together with his application submit a copy of the decision protested and of the decisions of lower courts.
4) An application for a hearing in cassation shall be made to the Federal Supreme Court within 90 days from the date on which the final decision protested is rendered.
23. Divisions of the Federal High Court and First Instance Court 1) The Federal High Court and the Federal First Instance Court shall have: (a) a Civil Divison; (b) a Criminal Divison; and
(c) a Labour Division.
2) There shall sit a presiding judge and two other judges, in each division. 3) The President and Vice-President of the Federal High Court may preside over any division of their respective Courts.
24. Place of Sittings 1) The Federal Supreme Court shall sit in Addis Ababa. 2) The Federal High Court and the Federal First Instance Court shall sit in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa and in such other places as may be determined in accordance with Article 78(2) of the Constitution.
3) A Federal Court of any level may, where it finds it necessary for the efficient rendering of justice, hold circuit hearings in any place within the Region or area designated for its jurisdiction.
25. Working Language of Federal courts 1) Amharic shall be the working language of Federal courts. 2) The Court shall provide an interpreter to a party who does not understand Amharic. 26. Open Hearing 1) All cases shall be heard in open court. 2) Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-Article (1) hereof and without prejudice to procedureal laws relevant to adjudication, cases may be heard in camera in consideration of the following:
(a) Public and state safety and security: or (b) Public morality and decency.
27. Withdrawal of Judges 1) No judge of a Federal Court shall sit in any case where: (a) he is related to one of the parties or the advocate thereof by consanguinity or by affinity; (b) the dispute relates to a case in which one of the parties is a person for whom he acted as tutor, legal representative or advocate;
(c) he has previously acted in some capacity in connection with the case or the subject matter of the dispute;
(d) he has a case pending in court with one of the parties or the advocate thereof;
(e) there are sufficient reasons, other than those specified under sub-Article (1) (a) to (d) hereof, to conclude that injustice may be done.
2) The judge concerned shall withdraw as soon as he is aware that he should not sit, in accordance with sub-Article (1) hereof, and shall be replaced by another judge.
28. Application for Removal of a Judge 1) Where a party to a case is of the opinion that a judge should not sit for one of the reasons specified in Article 27 hereof, he shall submit a written application to the court requesting that the judge be removed. 2) The application shall be made before the trial opens or soon after the party becomes aware of the reason for making such an application.
3) Where the judge is sitting alone he shall, after considering the application, either withdraw or refer the matter for decision to another division of the same court or, where there is no other division, to the court in which appeal lies from the decision of his court.
4) Where the judge is sitting with other judges, he shall withdraw and the remaining judge or judges shall hear the application and give a decision thereon.
5) A decision given under sub-Articles (3) and (4) hereof shall be final and subject to no appeal.
6) A judge shall forth with comply with a decision given under this Article.
29. Costs of Application The costs of application under Article 28 hereof shall form part of the costs in the case. Where the application is dismissed, however, the costs shall be borne by the applicant irrespective of the outcome of the case. 30. Penalty for Application Without Good Cause Where a party makes an application under Article 28 hereof without good cause the court may, in addition to dismissing the application, impose a fine not exceeding Birr five hundred (500).
PART SEVEN
The Plenum of the Federal Supreme Court
 
31. Plenum of the Federal Supreme Court
The Federal Supreme Court shall have a Federal Supreme Court Plenum (hereinafter "the Plenum.") 32. Members of the Plenum 1) The members of the Plenum shall be the President, the Vice-President and judges of the Federal Supreme Court, the Presidents of the Federal High Court and the Federal first Instance Court and the Presidents of Regional Supreme Courts. 2) The Minister of Justice shall participate in the sessions of the Plenum without, however, having the right to vote.
3) Judges not referred to under sub-Article (1) hereof and representatives of appropriate government offices, associations, organizations, law faculties, and scientific institutions or other individuals may be invited to participate in the Plenum without, however, having the right to vote.
33. Powers and Duties of the Plenum The Plenum shall have the following powers and duties:
1) to deliberate on problems encountered in the administration of justice and work out remedies thereto; 2) to examine and approve directives and decisions that help improve the judicial practices of Federal Courts;
3) to submit proposals to the House of Peoples' Representatives for the enactment of new laws or the amendment of existing ones;
4) to perform such other functions as help to make the judiciary efficient and strong; and
5) to issue regulations necessary for the proper carrying out of its duties.
34. Working Procedure of the Plenum 1) The President of the Federal Supreme court shall be the Chairman of the Plenum. 2) The Plenum shall designate its own Secretary.
3) The Plenum shall convene Once a year; additional meetings may be called as necessary.
4) Two-thirds of members of the Plenum shall constitute a quorum. Decisions shall be adopted by a majority vote; in case of a tie, the Chairman shall have a casting vote.
PART EIGHT
Miscellaneous Provisions
 
35. Decisions and Orders of Federal Courts
1) Federal Courts of any level may order that decisions and orders given by them be enforced by Regional courts. 2) Where two or more Regional or Federal Courts claim or disclaim jurisdiction over a case, the Federal Supreme Court shall give the appropriate order thereon. 36. Pending Cases Cases pending in Central Courts as well as in the Courts of Region 14 and Dire Dawa, prior to the coming into force of this Proclamation, shall be transferred to the Federal Courts having jurisdiction pursuant to provisions herein.
 
37. Repealed and Inapplicable Laws 1) The Central Government Courts Establishment Proclamation No. 40/1993 (as amended) is hereby repealed. 2) Any law inconsistent or dealing with matters provided for under this Proclamation shall be inapplicable. 38. Effective Date This proclamation shall come into force as of the 15th day of February, 1996.
Done at Addis Ababa, this 15th day of February,1996.
 
NEGASO GIDADA (DR.)
PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA
 

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