Ethiopia has a hybrid legal system consisting of features from the Anglo-Saxon Common Law system and the Roman-based Civil Law system. Despite this feature, the majority of its laws are codified like most Civil Law jurisdictions. Among others, the codified laws include the Civil Code, the Civil Procedure Code, the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Commercial Code, and the Maritime Code. There are also other legislations promulgated from time to time by the Parliament. These laws codified or otherwise have to be published in the official and authoritative government gazette, namely, the Negarit Gazeta. The codes which had been promulgated during the second-half of the twentieth century and other legislation have undergone amendments or revisions throughout the past years.
Ethiopia has a dual system of courts - a Federal Judiciary with the Supreme Court at the top along with a separate and parallel judicial system in each Regional State. The Federal Supreme Court, the Federal High Court and the Federal First Instance Court constitute a single Federal Judiciary, having jurisdiction over all cases pertaining to federal matters. Likewise, there is a similar court structure in each Regional State that has jurisdiction over all regional matters. The Judiciary has to dispense justice not only between individuals, but also between the state and the citizens. In administering justice, the Federal courts are directed by internationally accepted principles of justice as well as the laws (include ratified international agreements) of Ethiopia. The practice of law is reserved for Ethiopians.
The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land, overriding all other legislations in the country. Second in the hierarchy are Proclamation, which are legislations enacted by the House of Peoples’ Representatives (Parliament), the highest authority of the Federal Government. Third, Regulations (Council of Ministers Regulations) are executive enactments. The lowest enactments are Directives, issued by Government Departments to execute Proclamations and Regulations.