Will a claim of inheritance be barred if not brought with in 10 Years?

An action of petito haereditatis will be barred after three years from the plaintiff having become aware of his right and of the taking possession of the property of the inheritance by the defendant. But does this mean that any suit arising from inheritance will be barred if not brought with in three years? 

A decision rendered on April 29, 2001 E.C by the Cassation bench relates to this issue. The suit was between the applicants the successors of Wro Genet Damlew and the defendant Ato Yisma Asfaw. The suit stated that in the will of the deceased, Mrs.Tekabech, it is stated that a house was passed on to the plaintiff and the defendant’s husband. But the defendant took the house but failed to give the plaintiff his share. So, the plaintiff requested the court to render a decision on his behalf. 

The defendants, on their statement of defense claimed that the suit was barred by limitation since it was not brought to the court with in three years. 

The court that first entertained the case rejected the claim of period of limitation and decided on the issues framed. The High Court upon appeal also decided to enforce lower court’s decision. 

The case was appealed to the Cassation bench. As the bench came to see the property at the center of the suit was handed to the plaintiff on 1962 E.C, the testator dead in 1968 E.C and the plaintiff instituted a suit to the court in 1994 E.C 

In the case at hand art. 1000 of the Civil Code cannot be applied since the defendant doesn’t have any right in relation to the property of dispute. 


Will a Contract of employment cease when a particular project ends?

As stipulated under art 10(C) of proclamation 377/96 an irregular work relating to permanent part of the work of an employer but performed on an irregular interval is considered to be a contract of employment for a definite period of time.

So, any employee working in a company for a specific project, the contact of employment will no longer exist as soon as the project ends. The mere fact that there are other projects administered by the company doesn’t give the employee the right to claim the contract is still valid there is also no provision that obligates the company to transfer employees from one project to the other.

A decision rendered in the Cassation bench on Oct 19, 2009 reflected the above fact. The defendants on this bench were the first to institute the claim. They claimed that their employer has unlawfully terminated their contract saying the specific project they were assigned for has ended while there were other projects running else where. So, they asked for compensation and other payments.

The court, after framing the issue whether the contract was lawfully terminated or not, heard the arguments of both parties. It stated that though the position of the employer is as a permanent the employee, but the fact that they are carpenters shows that the nature of their work is temporary. Giving the above argument, it stated the contract was terminated lawfully.


Can a person present while discharging his duties be considered as a witness in a public will?

It is stipulated under article 881 of the Ethiopian Civil Code that for a public will to be considered valid, one of the requirements that should be fulfilled is it should be made in the presence of four witnesses. Article 882 has also put a certain condition where it would be valid if it is made in the presence of two witnesses; it is when it is made in front of a registrar or a judge in discharge of his duties. 

 But there is one confusing issue here. What happens in circumstances when a will is made in the presence of a registrar or a judge but this person is not enlisted in the will as a witness? 

A similar issue was entertained in the Federal First Instance Court. The court is its decision stated that since the will was made in front of the proper authorities, they should be considered as witnesses though they were not specifically enlisted in the will. 

But, up on appeal the Federal High Court decided other wise. If stated that, according to art-881 the number of witnesses present should be four. The mere fact that it was made in front of a judge or a registrar doesn’t automatically decrease the number of witnesses to two. This is because the only way two witnesses would be enough is where the registrar or the judge has been listed as witnesses. 

Having said that the court rejected the lower courts decision and invalidated the will. 


Is it mandatory to pay Provident fund and severance payment together?

According to the rationales of Ethiopian labour law the main purpose of severance pay to an employee is, to minimize any financial instability that may arise while the employee is searching for a new job due to termination of employment. It is obvious that the same principle also applies for provident funds. So, will it be fair to enforce an employer to pay for both severance pay and provident fund when it is known that they both serve the same objective.

The suit between the applicant Awash International Bank and defendant Ephrem Newaymariam was based up on the above issue. The suit initiated up on the claim of the defendant in the Federal First Instance Court. He stated that he was working in the applicants company for several years. But the contract of employment terminated up on the initiation of the employee. The applicant made all the necessary payments including provident funds. The complaint was that payment of severance pay was not made.

The court that entertained the case rejected the claim of the defendant stating that the defendant admitted to accepting provident funds as per proclamation 494/98 a person can not ask for payment twice. The suit was appealed to the Federal High Court the court; accordingly the court rejected the decision of the lower court and ordered the applicant to pay severance pay for the employee.