Ethiopia: Court to Hear Witnesses on 5m Br Suit against Xpress Money, Abyssinia Bank


Bank of Abyssinia was sued as a second defendant for posting the pictures in all of its branches across the country

The Lideta Federal High Court decided to hear witnesses in a five million Birr suit filed by a married couple who are daily laborers against Bank of Abyssinia and Xpress Money, an American money transfer company.

The case is alleged to be related to the use of the picture of the couple for the money transfer business of the American company, the first defendant, launched in Ethiopia through the agency of the domestic bank, which has been named as second defendant. Mesebo Mathewos and his wife Bertukan Denke claim that their picture was used for advertisement without their authorization.

In their suit instituted on January 1, 2013, the couple claimed that although they had no advertising contract with Xpress Money and Bank of Abyssinia, the former was using their pictures at all agents through brochures and pamphlets. Witnesses for the plaintiff, who sued both Xpress Money and Bank of Abyssinia as first and second defendants respectively for using their pictures in advertisements without a prior contractual agreement, will be summoned and heard at the Lideta Federal High Court.

Xpress Money is an international money transfer company operating with 170,000 agents in 150 countries.

The couple sued Bank of Abyssinia as a second defendant for posting their picture in all of its branches throughout Ethiopia and facilitating other agent banks to post the advertisement picture. They based their claim on article 27 of the civil code, which prohibits the use of one’s picture by another without the consent of the former.

They asked the court to order Xpress money and Bank of Abyssinia discharge a payment for using their picture to expand the brand of the former. The minimum payment made by Xpress money for advertisement is five million Birr, the plaintiff couple said, adding that the defendants should pay them such amount jointly and severally including interest and 1,000 Birr moral compensation.

Bank of Abyssinia objected to the claim of the plaintiff saying that they did not provide any evidence proving that the picture was used without their consent, where it was taken, for how long it had been on display and who the distributor is.

It also objected that it should not be charged jointly and severally with Xpress Money as Xpress Money alone is the advertiser using the photo.

It further defended that their compensation claim should be rendered void saying that they cannot face any moral damage within their society as they are a married couple.

The Court, having read the claim and the defenses provided, conducted oral litigation and has decided to hear witnesses for the plaintiff on June 2,2015.


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