Some unusual facts about repeal in Ethiopia

26 Sep

By Abrham Yohannes*, Ethiopian Legal Brief, September 17, 2012

Repeal of a court decision by law (Legislative review of Court Decisions?) Part I

According to the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution, the House of Federation has a power to interpret the constitution. Although the meaning and scope of the ‘constitutional adjudication’ in general is subject to controversy among some legal scholars, practically we all agree that ordinary courts do not have any power over questions of constitutionality of a proclamation issued by the House of People’s Representatives. The courts are even reluctant to exercise their power of review over the legality of subordinate legislations (regulations and directives) and administrative decisions.

So, as I have said there is no such thing as judicial review of legislation in Ethiopia. What about legislative review of judicial decisions? I mean what about giving power to the House of People’s Representatives to repeal or invalidate those court decisions which are manifestly erroneous or contrary to public interest. I guess most of you will strongly object to this odd ‘concept.’ Yes it is odd, but there is proof that parliament has repealed or invalidated existing court decisions after they were pronounced.

If you have doubt over the validity of this fact, just read Article 3 sub 2 of Civil Code As Amended Proclamation No. 639/2009. This law was issued in response to the position of courts (including the cassation bench) in giving meaning to article 1723 of the 1960 Ethiopian Civil Code. Sub article 1 of article 1723 provides that a contract creating or assigning rights of ownership or bare ownership on an immovable or an usufruct, servitude or mortgage on an immovable shall be writing and registered with a court or notary.
 

Read the full article in Some unusual facts about repeal in Ethiopia
 

Some unusual facts about repeal in Ethiopia (Part II)

It is difficult even for law makers to remember each and every law they have amended and repealed. With the ever increasing quantity of legislations issued by the law maker and subordinate organs, sometimes it may happen that a provision of the law be repealed twice. Here are two instances:

A.) Proclamation No. 287/2002 (Tax on Coffee Exported from Ethiopia (Amendment) Proclamation) is an amendment to Proclamation No.99/1998 (Tax on Coffee Exported from Ethiopia.) One of the provisions of the previous law which was amended by Proclamation No. 287/2002 is Article 4. This Article provides that the rate of Tax payable on Coffee exported from Ethiopia shall be 6.5% (six and point five per cent) of the FOB price. FOB is defined in the proclamation as selling price of coffee quoted at the port of loading, agreed between the Coffee exporter and his customer and approved by the National Bank of Ethiopia, from which freight and insurance costs are excluded.

Article 2(1) of Proclamation No. 287/2002 mainly amends the tax rate lowering it to zero. It reads:

Article 4 of the proclamation is deleted and replaced by the following new Article 4.

“4. The rate of the Tax which has been 6.5% (six and point five per cent) shall be zero”

However, the deletion and replacement to article 4 of Proclamation No.99/1998 is a double repeal as it has already been deleted by Council of Ministers Regulations No.73/2001(Tax Amendment on Exported Coffee Council of Ministers Regulations.)

Article 2 of the regulation reads:

2. Amendment

Article 4 of the Tax on Coffee Exported from Ethiopia Proclamation No.99/1998 is deleted and replaced by the following new Article 4:

4. Rate of the Tax

1) The Rate of the Tax shall be 6.5% (six and point five per cent) of the FOB price.

2) Notwithstanding the provisions of Sub-Article (1) above, no tax shall be levied if the FOB price of the coffee exported is:

(a) Below 105 cents (one hundred five cents) per pound for washed coffee;

(b) Below 70 cents (seventy cents) per pound for unwashed coffee.

Read the full article in Some unusual facts about repeal in Ethiopia
 

Part III

Power of the prime Minister to repeal a law

Article 74 of the F.D.R.E. Constitution grants wider powers to the prime minister of the country. Even though, the Constitution allows conferring more powers to the prime minister other than those indicated in article 74 by issuing a law to this effect, in practice almost all the proclamations that define the powers and duties of the executive organs, do not provide for additional powers. Usually there will be simply a reference to article 74 of the constitution.

“The powers and duties of the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia shall be as specified under Article 74 of the Constitution.” [Article 3 of Proclamation No. 691/2010 Definition of Powers and Duties of the Executive Organs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Proclamation]

My intention here is not to discuss the extent and scope of the power of the Prime Minister, rather to raise a question about his power of repealing a law. Does the Prime Minister have a power to repeal a law? Surely he does not have any power to repeal a law issued by the highest law making organ (The House of People’s Representatives.) What about regulations issued by the Council of Ministers and directives of administrative agencies? Looking at article 74 of the Constitution, it in no way provides such power to the prime minister. This similarly holds true for the laws of Addis Ababa Administration even though the administration is accountable to the federal government. On the other hand, the House of People’s Representatives is not constitutionally authorized to make a law empowering the prime minister to repeal a law.

Read the full article in Some unusual facts about repeal in Ethiopia (Part III)

*The writer is blogger and lecturer at the College of Law, Haramaya University and a lawyer licensed to practice law at all levels of Federal Courts and Harari Regional Courts.
 

Transforming Ethiopia TE

%d bloggers like this: