If an applicant fails to appear on a hearing should the court automatically dismiss the case? The Federal Cassation Bench has rendered a decision on a case involving the above issue. The case was between Ethiopian Transport Authority and W/ro Tigist Wondefraw and Bahru Mohammed.

The case initiated upon claim of the applicant claiming the defendants caused damage to the bridge built by the Ethiopian Transport Authority. Consequently, it asked for compensation of damages. The Federal First Instance Court has rejected the claim of the applicant. Hence the applicant appealed to the Federal High Court but the Ethiopian Transport Authority failed to appear so the Federal High Court dismissed the suit in accordance with art.73 of the Ethiopian Civil Procedure Code.

The suit was appealed to the Federal Cassation Bench. The court, after hearing the argument of both parties, came to a decision to reject the decision of lower courts. Art. 73 of the civil procedure code allows a court to dismiss a suit only if the defendant totally denies the claim, if the defendant admits the claim or part of it, the court should pass a decree against the defendant up on such admission.

But in this case, whether the defendant has/has not admitted to the claim was not proved. The lower court simply dismissed the suit on the grounds of non appearance. This decision is not in accordance with the law. So, based on this ground, this bench dismissed decisions of lower courts and decided to re-open the suit to be entertained in the court with proper jurisdiction.  So courts shouldn’t dismiss a case automatically for the mere reason of non appearance of parties as long as the case is admitted by the defendant. In such cases they should decide it based on the merits of the case.

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