Sometime petite issues like “who has the jurisdiction to entertain complains regarding trade name registration” could be controversial. This is what happened on the case of Ato Habteweld Zergaw Management Consultancy Institute vs Ethiopian Ministry of Justice.
If one reads art. 2(9) and 16 of proclamation no. 686/2002 together, one can grasp that the Ministry of Trade has the jurisdiction to entertain administrative matters that may arise regarding the procedures of registration. But the provision doesn’t clearly state whether the meaning of “complains” stipulated in this provision is on the Appeal or the First Instance Level.
Accordingly, the cassation bench has given interpretation with regards to this.
The matter was between the applicants Ato Habteweld Zergaw Management Consultancy Institute and the respondent the Ministry of Justice. The matter started up on the application of the applicant. He stated that the respondent registered a trade name very similar to the one the applicant possessed despite the fact that an opposition was brought to it to that effect. So, the applicant is claiming for the cancellation of the trade name.
The First Instance Court that entertained the matter rejected the applicant’s claim stating that the matter will only be entertained as a matter of appeal and not as a matter of first instance. The High Court confirmed with the Federal First Instance’s Court decision.
The matter then reached the cassation bench.
The bench stated that any party that has complains on the final decisions regarding legal matters can appeal to the Federal Courts. But the provision doesn’t clearly stipulate which levels of courts have the jurisdiction to entertain these matters.
When we look at article 61 of proclamation no. 686/2002 it stipulates that “Any person or a business person or a commercial representative against whom an administrative decision has been taken by the registering office or the appropriate authority may lodge appeal in connection with his complaints to regular courts only on matters of law.
So, through contextual interpretation, it can be understood from the above provision that courts only entertain matters at the appeal stage and not at the first instance stage. So, parties are only allowed to present their cases to court only after the Ministry of Trade has given final decision on the matter.
Having given the above illustration, the bench confirmed the decisions of the lower courts.
Interpretation on the Cassation Court
What we can understand from the above decision of the Cassation Courtis that any complaints regarding the administrative decisions of the Ministry of Trade can only be brought to the court as appeal after final decision has been given on the matter by Ministry of Trade.
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