In cases where the issue of conflict is a property situated in a given state and if the place is also where the parties had concluded the contract, then according to Art. 24(1) and 25(1) of the Ethiopian Civil Procedure Code, the courts that have the jurisdiction to try the case are the courts situated in the same province as the property in conflict.
But in case where the parties are from different states or in cases where the parties involved are foreigners the court that will have jurisdiction over these matters are the federal courts. Art.5 (2) of proclamation 25/1988 clearly hands jurisdiction to federal courts in cases where the parties are from different states. This basic right will remain effective even if the issue in conflict is situated in a given state.
A case entertained in the Federal Cassation Bench on Feb.24, 2004 E.C involved the same issue. The case was based on a property situated in Mekelle but the parties were residents in different states. The Mekelle First Instance Court rejected the case saying it had no jurisdiction. The case was appealed to high court and the Mekelle High Court dismissed the decision of lower courts due to the fact that the property at hand was situated in Mekelle area.
The case went till the state cassation bench but all enforced the decision of the high court. The case has been appealed to the Federal Cassation Bench.
After the cassation bench analyzed the arguments of both parties it decided to enforce the decision of the Mekelle First Instance Court asserting that the mere fact that property at issue is located in a given state doesn’t give the state the inherent right to try the case. Hence, they decided that the Mekelle court can’t have jurisdiction over the matter since the parties involved are from different states.
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