The Federal Supreme Court has introduced a draft new regulation for discussion on court fees. Ethiopia has been using Legal Notice 1945 E.C as the court fee structure up to now. The Federal Supreme Court is suggesting it is timely to upgrade and update on court fees. Therefore the court floated for discussion the new draft Federal Courts Court Fee Structure Regulation. Access to justice has to be the core issue. The higher the court fee, the higher the probability that clients both individuals and companies, may lay down claims or legal actions due to significant fees they will be required to pay. The trend for example in Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi has been to establish a cap for all civil and commercial claims. First the court fees are usually calculated based on a percentage of the claim amount in the statement of claim. Then once the claim amount exceeds a specific amount, the court fee is usually capped to a maximum amount regardless of the percentage value. For example the UAE capped court fees at AED 40,000 for claims exceeding AED 1,000,000. The plaintiff is subject not only to court fee, but lawyer’s fee, translation fee and stamp duty. All these fees are advance fees paid prior to opening a file in court of law. There are other fees paid in litigation like fees for injunction order, judgment or decree, amendment of claim or defense, penalties for missing court appointments, expert fees, witness expenses etc. These are hidden fees that pop up during litigation.
The Federal Courts announced officially the commencement of the calendar year 2016 E.C(2023/2024) as of October 12,2023. Article 38 of the Federal Courts Proclamation No 1234/2021 reiterate that federal courts shall be closed from July 08 to October 11 of every year. During the recess of the courts, emergency cases were tried by judges who work overtime voluntarily.
The FDRE Council of Ministers has issued a state of emergency Proclamation as per Article 93(1)(a) of the FDRE Constitution. The Proclamation is intended for safeguarding peace and security of people of Amhara Regional State. The Proclamation shall be effective from the date of promulgation by the Council of Ministers which is as of August 4,2023 and shall be effective for six months. The HoPR may order the cessation time of the Proclamations ahead of the six month as the case may be. As a result, any judicial organ shall have no authority with regards to items covered on the Proclamation until the expiry of the Proclamation. Substantive and procedural laws inconsistent with the Proclamation shall remain suspended during the implementation of the Proclamation save diplomatic immunities indicated under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Proclamation covers 11 provisions divided into four parts.
As per Federal Courts Proclamation No. 1234/2021, Article 38, Federal Courts shall be closed from August 7 to October 11 every year(Amharic version). Consequently, this year the courts shall be partially closed from August 7 to October 11, 2023. However, emergency cases shall be tried in courts by judges. Judges will also work on cases on an over-time voluntarily basis. The judgments or decrees or orders made during the partial closure time shall be revealed to the parties when the court re-opens after October 11/2023.
The Proclamation gives the Federal Supreme Court the power to issue directives to determine what type of cases are emergency cases that are entitled to be seen while the courts are in partial closure.
The Federal Supreme Court is asserting the fact that appellate courts and cassation courts have a duty to state reason for dismissal. The trend has been to dismiss and close files with a form without any reason stated. According to the Federal Supreme Court, such procedures have created so many disappointments and distrust on appellants and applicants. To reverse these procedures, the Federal Supreme Court has introduced a directive and a letter that orders cassation divisions and appellate courts to provide reasons when dismissing cases, respectively.
The Cassation Division Procedure Directive No 17/2023 (effective as of April 27/2023) obliges the Cassation division to provide reasons for dismissal of application of the applicant. The Cassation Division to which three judges of the Federal Supreme Courts sit, when it concludes upon examination of the application that there is no basic or fundamental error of law, it shall order the dismissal of the application. Article 7 of the Directive provides that upon such dismissal, the Cassation Division is required to state the reasons for rejection of the application. By law, the cassation division to which three judges of the Federal Supreme court sit, is required to provide a reason or reasons why the application is dismissed.
Likewise, in a letter dated June 7,2023 Ref.No M/1-29/4308, the Federal Supreme Court has directed all appellate courts to state reasons for dismissal of an appeal under Article 337 of the Civil Procedure Code. The letter covers the advantages of stating reasons for dismissal from the perspective of natural justice, Civil Procedure Articles 3 and Article 182 and maintaining the trustworthiness of the judiciary to the public. The implementation of this procedure is effective as of June 14,2023.(Credit to Daniel Fikadu Law Office)
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The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has been given the power to grant licenses to payment system operators under National Payment System Proclamation No 718/2011 and its Amendment Proclamation No 1282/2023. Article 6(8) of the Amendment Proclamation, for instance, provides that ‘ foreign nationals and Ethiopian organizations fully owned by foreign nationals shall engage in a payment instrument issuer and/or payment system operator business through raising capital fully paid in foreign currency’. Upon satisfaction by a full and complete application process, the NBE shall grant license or authorization for operating the payment system. Following these Proclamations, on May 11,2023, the NBE announced the granting of a payment instrument issuer license to a foreign investor, the first of its kind. The license is given to Safaricom M-Pesa Mobile Financial Services Private Limited Company. This company is a subsidiary of Safaricom Telecommunication Ethiopia Private Limited Company.
Invest Ethiopia 2023 is an annual event organized by the Ethiopian Investment Commission. The forum is held from April 26-28,2023 in Addis Ababa Skylight Hotel. The priority investment areas include agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, mining and tourism. The forum consist of keynote speeches and presentations, panel discussion, selected investment showcasing, regional investment offices as exhibitors, targeted site visits, sideline events including MoU signings and networking opportunities of business to business and business to government were held.