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Articles, Legislation

Definition of Ethiopian legal terms


“Definition is an attempt to state in precise terms the meaning of a word or of an expression. In legislation it should be used only as an aid to clarity and to reduce vagueness as much as possible. It should be used only when necessary and should be as complete as possible. Robinson1 considers that the purpose of all nominal definition is to report or establish the meaning of a word or symbol. Word-word definition does this in the form of saying that one word means the same as another word. Word-thing definition does it in the form of saying that a word means a certain thing.
V. C. R. A. C. CRABBE (LEGISLATIVE DRAFTING)

Adefinition is unnecessary if themeaning of theword or phrase is clear or can be readily ascertained fromthe context. Also, a word or phrase need not
be definedmerely because it is technical or unusual.However, if a definition is genuinely required, it should not be shunned merely because the term is
used only onceortwice”  Peter Butt and Richard Castle (MODERN LEGAL DRAFTING A Guide to Using Clearer Language, 2nd ed.)

After writing a post ” the difficult task of defining person” I realized that the issue of “definition” is one that requires immediate attention and response from the lawmaker. Although the basic purpose of definition is clarity, most of the definitions of federal laws are confusing and difficult to understand. One of the causes for this is that the lawmaker considers definition as a necessary and inevitable part of every proclamation. The result is a lengthy list of definitions very difficult to comprehend.

Definition and the new pension law.

Article 2(5) of Private Organization Employees Pension Proclamation No. 715/2011 defines “Region” as any state referred to in Article 47(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and includes the Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city administrations. However, there is no provision in the proclamation mentioning or making a reference to the term “Region. It is simply defined without purpose. There is an additional problems in defining  Region“. According to Article 47 of the constitution, There are only 9 regional states. Therefore, there is no constitutional ground to consider Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city administrations as regions even for the purpose of that specific legislation. One of the cardinal principles of ‘definition’ is that the lawmaker should avoid making a rule in the name of definition. The purpose of definition is clarification, not making rules. Defining Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city administrations as regions is making a rule as to the scope of the proclamation. Parliament can avoid such type of problems by simply providing a ‘scope’ provision and explicitly indicating that the law is applicable to Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city administrations.

After going through some of the definitions in Federal laws, I thought it could be helpful for parliament if all the definitions from 1995 till now are compiled arranged alphabetically. This resolves the problem of consistency while using a similar term in different legislations provided that there no deliberate decision variation to signify the context that term is used.

For instance “Road” and “Vehicle” are defined in different legislations in the following way.

Vehicle (P547/07) a motor vehicle, constructed for use for conveyance of goods and includes trailers, semi-trailers and rail wagons

Vehicle (P559/08)   any wheeled motor vehicle, semi trailer or trailer for use on the road with the exception of wheelchair, implement of husbandry and bicycle

Road (P66/97) highway, rural road and urban road and includes bridge

Road (P559/08) any highway, urban or rural street, parking or terminal, bridge or any other passage customarily open for vehicles

Road (P600/08) any road, street, highway, rural road or any other travel route, customarily used by vehicles other than private roads not open to all traffic

It is very difficult to conclude that the terms “Road” and “Vehicle” are defined intentionally to reflect any specific context.  There is simply a variation in the use of words. Most of the time,  this happens when the specific proclamations are drafted by different individuals A drafter should know how a certain term is defined in another statute, before embarking on the task of defining and giving a meaning to that legal term. However, as there is no law digest or another easy mechanism of systematic index and reference to all legislations, it would be a time consuming task to identify similar definitions.

As a result I have compiled all the definitions of legal terms used in all the proclamations and regulations from 1995 to 2003. This compilation also includes a complete list all repealed laws and corrigenda (corrections) during this period.

Below is the first entry of the compilation. The abbreviations in the bracket refer to the source of the law where that definition is taken from. I have deleted the repetitive use of the word “means” after each definition.

I would appreciate if you could leave me you constructive (…and even destructive) comments.

Academic community (P650/09)    all those persons studying, teaching and doing research as permanent or visiting members of an institution

Academic officer (P650/09)   research and publication officer, registrar and other similar officers

Academic staff  (P351/03)  an academic staff employed by a higher education institution to devote 75% of his/her time to teaching and 25% of his/her time to research or employed in research centers of the institution and devote 75% of his/her time to research an 25% of his/her time to teaching

Academic staff (P650/09)   members of an institution employed in the capacity of teaching and/or research, and any other professional of the institution who shall be recognized so by senate statutes

Academic unit (P650/09)   a college, faculty, school, an institute, a department or a centre established as a constituent unit of an institution

Access (P482/06) the collection, acquisition, transfer or use of genetic resources and/or community knowledge

Accident  (P616/08)   an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft, which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until the time such person has disembarked, in which:

a) the person is injured as a result of:

(1) being in the aircraft;

(2) detached from the aircraft, or

(3) direct exposure to jet blast;

except when the injuries are from natural causes, self inflicted or inflicted by other persons, or when the injuries are to stowaways hiding outside the areas normally available to passengers and crew;

(b) the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure which:

(1)adversely affects the structural strength or performance of the aircraft; and

(2)would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component, except for engine failure or damage, when the damage is limited to the engine, its cowlings or accessories or for damage limited to propellers, wing tips, antennas, tires or brakes failings or small dents or puncture holes in the aircraft skin; or

c) the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible

Accrediting Authority (P391/04)  the Ministry [Ministry of Education]  or a body authorized by a State in respect of the issuance of pre-accreditation licenses and accreditation certificates as the case may be

Accreditation (P391/04)  the granting of a certificate of competence by the appropriate Accrediting Authority to an institution providing technical and vocational education ant training evidencing its fulfillment of the basic and additional requirements relating to the specified training standard

Addis Ababa (P87/97) includes the existing urban areas and the twenty three rural localities falling under the jurisdiction of the City Government

Administrative City (P654/09)   the Administrative City of Addis Ababa or the Administrative City of Dire Dawa

Administrative costs (P621/09) shall mean those costs incurred for emoluments, allowances, benefits, purchasing goods and services, travelling and entertainments necessary for the administrative activities of a Charity or society

Administrative Decision  (P515/07) shall mean for the purpose of part (10) a decision given by the Head of a government institution, either orally or in writing, on a recommendation by disciplinary or grievance handling committee in accordance with the power conferred by law or a decision given by the Head of a government institution without following the required due process

Administrative support staff (P650/09)   personnel of an institution employed to provide administrative, business management, accounting, catering, maintenance, safety, security and such other services

Adulterated Fertilizer  (P137/98)   a fertilizer that contains any foreign substance the addition of which is likely eliminate or decrease the nutrient content of plants

Adulteration (P661/09)  adding any foreign substance or ingredient to a food for commercial purpose or to be served for the public in any way or medicine other than its content or by substituting its content in whole or in part by such other substance or by storing or manufacturing it under unsanitary conditions whereby it may have been contaminated

Advance informed agreement (P655/09) a written consent granted by the Authority for the undertaking of a transaction in accordance with this Proclamation

Advertisement (P533/07) a message transmitted to publicize and promote sales of goods and services

Advocate“(P199/2000)  a lawyer whose name is registered in a register in order to render advocacy services

Advocate Assistant” (P199/2000)  a person who, under the guidance of an advocate, opens files of claims  prepared by the advocate in the court of law and receives summons, orders and copies of judgments from courts and delivers same to the concerned persons

Advocacy Service (P199/2000)   the preparation of contracts, memorandum of association, documents  of amendment or dissolution, of same, or documents to be adduced in court, litigation before courts on behalf of third parties, and includes rendering any legal consultancy services for consideration or without consideration, or for direct or indirect future consideration

Aerial work  (P616/08)   an aircraft operation in which an aircraft is used for specialized services such as agriculture, construction, photography, surveying, observation and patrol, search and rescue or aerial advertisement

Aerodrome  (P616/08)   an area of land or water intended to be used wholly or in part for the landing, take-off, movement or servicing of aircraft and includes buildings, installations and equipment on or adjacent to such area used for these purposes

Agricultural development (P686/10)  the production of perennial and annual crops as well as the development of animal and fishery resources, forest, wildlife, and the plantations of floriculture, vegetables and horticulture and products thereof

Agricultural Product   (P372/03)   a product as may, from time to time. be determined as an agricultural product by the Ministry or its designate

Agricultural Research (P79/97 )  research undertaking aimed at improving the production and productivity of plants, animals and natural resources

Agricultural Research Center (P79/97  an agricultural research organ established or to be established or administered by the Federal or Regional Government

Aid in kind (P57/96)   any assistance received by the Federal Government under a bilateral or multilateral agreement, or from other sources, that is received in the form of goods or services or any other form other than money

Aid in kind (P/648/09) any assistance received by the Federal Government under a bilateral or multilateral agreement, or from other sources, that is received in the form of goods or services or any other form other than money

Aircraft (P541/07) any type of airplane, helicopter, airship whether or not controlled or directed by human agency and without being limited to devices flown by automotive power

Aircraft in flight (an) (P31/96) refers to the period from the moment when all the external doors of an aircraft are closed following embarkation until the moment when any such door is opened for disembarkation; and includes, in case of forced landing, the time until the aircraft as well as the persons and property on board are released

Aircraft in service (an) (P31/96) refers to the period starting from the time of the preflight preparation of the aircraft by ground personnel or by the crew for a specific flight until twenty-four hours after any landing; but it shall not, in any event, be less than the entire period during which the aircraft is in flight as defined in sub-Article(1) of this Article

Aircraft (P616/08)   any vehicle that can derive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the air other than the reactions of the air against the earth’s surface

Air carrier  (P616/08)   an air operator that engages in the provision of transportation services by aircraft for remuneration or hire, whether directly or indirectly by lease or other arrangements, on schedule or charter basis

Aircraft engine  (P616/08)   any engine used, or intended to be used, for propulsion of aircraft and includes all parts, appurtenances and accessories thereof other than propellers

Air navigation   (P616/08)   the operation of guiding an aircraft from one place to another, and includes the fixing of the position of an aircraft

air navigation facility  (P616/08)   any area, lights, apparatus or equipment for disseminating weather information, signaling, radio directional finding, radio communication or any other facility for guiding or controlling flight in the air or the landing and take-off of aircraft

Aircraft operator  (P616/08)    any person engaged in an aircraft operation

Air route  (P616/08)   the airspace designated by the Authority for air navigation

Air service (P616/08)   an air transport service or an aerial work service, whether regular or casual

Air traffic control service  (P616/08)   provision of service to prevent collisions between aircrafts or with obstructions, and for expediting and maintaining of an orderly flow of air traffic

Airworthiness (P616/08)    the ability of an aircraft, with all its necessary components and accessories, to perform its function satisfactorily as determined by the Authority

Animal (P117/98) cattle, sheep, goat, camel, poultry, pig, bee and includes other animals which the authority for the purpose of this proclamation designates as animals

Animal Product (P117/98)  meat, milk, butter, cheese, egg, honey wax, sheep hair, as well as wool and includes other products which the authority designates as animal products

Animal by-product (P117/98) everything of value produced from the slaughter of animal such as hide, skin, horn, hoof , blood, bone and meat meal and includes other by-products which the authority in the future designates as animal by products

Apiculture resources (P660/09)   colony of honeybees residing in forests and hives and honey source plant potentials available in nature

Appliances (P616/08)   instruments, equipment, apparatus, parts or accessories which are used or intended to be used, in the navigation, operation or control of aircraft in flight including parachutes and communication equipment and any other mechanism installed in or attached to aircraft during flight, and which are not parts of aircraft, aircraft engines or propellers

Appointee (P668/2010) includes the following:

a) the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, State Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Director Generals and Deputy Director Generals;

b) Mayors and other appointees of the Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city administrations;

c) Presidents, Deputy Presidents and judges of regular and municipal courts;

d) appointees of the defense forces and police;

e) ambassadors, heads of consuls and other diplomatic missions;

f) the Auditor General and the Deputy Auditor General;

g) the Governor and Deputy Governor of the National Bank;

h) Members of Board of Directors, Managers and Deputy Managers of Public Enterprises;

i) Presidents and Deputy Presidents of government higher education institution

Apprentice   a person undergoing apprenticeship pursuant to a tripartite agreement concluded among a training institution, an organization and a trainee

Apprenticeship (P391/04)  job training undertaken by a trainee in an organization pursuant to an agreement concluded among a training institution, an organization and trainee to enable the trainee to put to practice the technical and vocational education and training he acquired in a training institution and to be acquainted with work

Appropriation (P57/96)   any authorization of the council of Peoples’ Representatives to pay money out of the Consolidated Fund

Appropriation (P/648/09)    the endorsement by the Minister of the budget allocation based on the budget approved by the House of People’s Representatives

Asset (P668/2010)   any movable or immovable or tangible or intangible property and includes landholdings and debts

Assistance (P10/95) includes comprehensive measures taken to prevent the coming, in future, of a disaster area under a similar situation, in addition to meeting the need of the victims of disaster for food and other basic necessities of life

Assistance (P383/04) include all measures taken to meet the need of the victims of disaster for food and other basic necessities of life

Assistance Programme  (P10/95) includes the supply and distribution of food and other materials necessary for a living, the availability of clean drinking-water, support in health and nutrients, support extended to the elderly and the disabled, the prevention of destruction to rural wealth such as animals, support for the development of supplementary economic activities besides agriculture, the rehabilitation of the environment, other developmental activities that help combat drought and measures relating to schemes which create job opportunities in connection with assistance

Assistance programme  (P383/04) includes the provision of financial aid, the supply and distribution of food and other materials necessary for a living, the availability of clean drinking water, support in health and nutrients and the prevention of destruction to rural wealth such as animals

Asylum-seeker  (P409/04)     any person who presents himself at the border or frontier claiming to be a refugee or any person is in Ethiopia and who has lodged an application with the competent authorities for recognition as a refugee and is awaiting a final decision on his application

Atomic energy (P571/08)   any type of energy emitted from radio-isotopes, nuclear reactions, nuclear reactors, X-ray equipment or other technical apparatus emitting ionizing radiation

Audio-visual work  (P410/04)   a work that consists of a series of related images, which impart the impression of motion, with or without accompanying sounds, susceptible of being made visible; by any appropriate device, and includes a cinematographic or other film

Auditor of Political Party (P573/08)   a person, having a certified professional competency, designated by a political party as auditor without any relation of whatever to the designating party

Author (P410/04)   the person who has intellectually created a work and includes-

a)  in the case of a computer program, person who has created the program;

b) in the case of a photograph, the person responsible for its composition

Authorized dealer (P591/08)  any person other than a bank, which is authorized by the National Bank to engage in foreign exchange transactions

Aviation personnel  (P616/08)    any individual who carries out a civil aviation operational or technical function and includes:

a) any individual who engages as pilot in command, pilot, mechanic or member of the crew, or who navigates an aircraft while the aircraft is underway;

b) any individual in charge of the inspection or maintenance of aircraft, aircraft engines or propellers or appliances; or

c)any individual who serves in the capacity of flight controller, air traffic controller or aircraft dispatcher officer

Award (P110/98)   a decision in writing rendered by an arbitrator(s) on a reference made otherwise than by order of court in the course of suit by parties to a compromise, conciliation or arbitral submission or other similar matters

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About Abrham Yohannes

Abrham Yohannes Hailu Licensed Lawyer & Consultant

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