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.