In establishing contractual relationships one should observe the formality requirements of the law. In this regard we will look at the requirements of form one may be required to observe while entering into agreements in Ethiopia.

According to the provisions of the Ethiopian Civil Code though in principle it is possible to enter into contract orally, by conduct, through signs some contracts are required by law to be made in a specific form the failure of its compliance could result in the invalidation of the contract. In other words though Contracting parties are at liberty in choosing the form of their contract under the Ethiopian law, when the law prescribes a special form for specifies contracts, contracting parties should observe it to ensure the legality of the agreement.

According to the Ethiopian Civil Code when the law expressly prescribes a special form it must be observed; otherwise the contract will be of no effect, it will be considered as a mere draft of a contract. The law does not forbid contracting parties to stipulate a contract to be made in writing even where the law does not require a special form.

One type of contract that requires written form is Preliminary Contracts.  Preliminary contract must be made in the form prescribed for the delivery. for instance is a contract of sell is made on the fulfillment of a certain condition then the contact of sell must be made according to the form prescribed for contract of sell by the law.

The law is Lenient towards Variation of Contract. If a contracting party wants to can vary a contract made in a special form the law allows him to do so in the same form.

There are also other types of contractors that always require a written form. One of such contracts is Contracts Relating to Immovable. Whenever contracts involving immovable are made we have to make sure that the contract is in a written form.

The other one that require a written form of contract is contract made with Public Administration. In this case if the contract is made binding the government or a public administration the contract must be made in writing and must be registered with the court, a public administration or a notary.

Would it be a surprise if Contracts For Along Period Of Time also need a written form of contract? Long term contracts like contract of Guarantee and Contract of Insurance need to be made in a written form.

Requirements of a Written Contract

For a written contract to be valid it must be attested at least by two witnesses and affix hand written signature of the contracting parties, therefore, if a written contract does not include these two requirements it’s not of effect.

You may ask what if one of the contracting parties or both are bind? Or even illiterate? The Ethiopian Civil Code addresses such issues like this. In these kind of cases the party who is blind or illiterate can a fix a finger print (thumb-mark) to the document and this finger print must be authenticated by a notary, a judge or a registrar.

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