Extra-Contractual Liabilities under Ethiopian Law
According to the Ethiopian law a person will be liable for the damage he causes into another
by offence, even if there is no any under taking on his offence. This means, the person will
be liable to another person on which he calls damage without any contractual relation
between them. In addition a person is liable for the damage he causes to another by an
activity in which he engages or by an object he possesses. Not only these, but a person is
responsible if a third party for whom he is answerable in law includes a liability arising out of
an offence or resulting from the law.
Generally, there are three types of extra- contractual liabilities.
1. Liability arising from an offence
2. Liability in the absence of an offence and
3. Liability for the action of others.
Let us see them one by one
1. Liability Arising From An Offence
This is a liability that arises when a person causes damage to another by an offence. The
offence may consist in an intentional act or in negligence. According to civil code of
Ethiopia a person commits an offence where he acts or refrains from acting in a manner or
in conditions which offend morality or public order. Professional fault is one of the offences
that entail liability. A person will be liable where due regard being had to scientific facts or
the accepted rule of the practice of his profession; he is guilty of imprudence or of
negligence constituting definite ignorance of his duties. A person commits an offence where
he acts with intent to injure another whether the seeks personal gain from his acts or not.
Abuse of power, infringement of a law and non- performance of a contract are offences that
results liability. Person who committed the above offences will be liable to the injured
person with out any contractual agreement between them.
2. Liability In The Absence Of An Offence
This is a type of liability, which a person will be liable for any damage he deliberately causes
to another in ordered to save himself or another from an imminent damage to person or
property. And in liability without an offence, a person may be the owner of an animal. If that
animal causes any damage, the owner will be liable, not withstanding that it has eluded his
control accidentally, or the damage caused was unforeseeable.
The owner of a building shall be liable for any damage due to the building even where the
damage was unforeseeable. The person who is liable may not commit any offence by himself
but in such cases he is held liable in the absence of an offence. The occupier of building shall
be liable for any damage caused by objects falling from it. Sometimes, not only one party
should be held liable. For example, where two motor vehicles are in collision, each of the
vehicles shall be deemed to have contributed equally to the accident. The owner of each
vehicle shall bear half of the total amount of the damage resulting from the accident.
3. Mode And Extent Of Compensation
In Extra- contractual liabilities, the liable person should compensate the injured party. There
are three types of compensations, material, moral and others. For material damage, it should
be compensated by awarding the victim an equivalent amount in damages. if the exact
amount of the damage can not be calculated, the court shall fix it equitably, taking into
account the ordinary course of events and the measure taken by the injured party, at no
indemnity may be awarded in respect of damage of which the very existence, and not only
the amount, is doubtful.
Compensation should be awarded for moral injury not for material injury only. Any offence
that caused amoral injury to a person should be compensated. For physical assault, unlawful
restraint, defamation, injury to the rights of spouses Assault on property, injury to a wife,
indecent assault, all these offences need moral compensation. Other modes of compensation
may include restitution for example the court may order the return of property to the
plaintiff which has been improperly taken away from him. If it the case of events against the
honor or reputation of an individual or individuals, the court may order such publicity to
made at the defendants expense as likely to counter the effect of the dealings,
4. Liability For The Action Of Others
This is the third types of extra-contractual liabilities. The father is liable under the law where
his minor child incurs liability. The employer shall be liable under the law where one of his
employees incurs liability in the discharge of his duties. The above two provisions show that
if a person is liable for another person by law or agreement he is bound to compensate the
Any person may bring action for compensation to the court if injured extra-contractually.
But the action should be brought within two years from the time at which he suffered the
damage for which he is claiming compensation. The victim of the injury should establish the
amount and prove the circumstances which render the defendant liable to make it good.
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