Even though the jurisprudence of Ethiopian product liability law has not yet developed, product liability is recognized and regulated under Ethiopian extra-contractual liability law. The Ethiopian extra-contractual liability law recognizes three grounds of extra-contractual liability. These are: fault based liability, strict liability and vicarious liability. Strict liability means liability “irrespective of fault” in the sense that a plaintiff need not prove any fault on the part of a defendant and a defendant’s proof of their own faultlessness does not relieve them of liability. Product liability, as recognized under Article 2085 of the Ethiopian Civil Code, is one of the grounds of strict liability recognized under the Ethiopian Civil Code. Any consumer has the right to claim payment of compensation for any damage resulting from the normal use of the goods from a manufacturer of a product who sells them to the public for a profit.
The policy rationale for product liability regime under Article 2085 of the Civil Code appears to be to protect the public against harm resulting from the use of manufactured products. The public in this regard refers to any person other than a person who bought manufactured goods directly from the manufacturer. A person buying manufactured goods directly from a manufacturer and sustaining harm from their normal use cannot invoke Article 2085 against the manufacturer. In this scenario, a buyer is restricted by its contractual remedies under a contract law to have recourse to extra-contractual liability. Other users of the product, who did not contract with the manufacturer, such as sub-purchasers or end-users, can claim damages under Ethiopian extra-contractual liability irrespective of fault.