Mizan Law Review

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Constitutional Adjudication by Parliaments: Lessons from Comparative Experience

Belachew Girma


This article explores historical experiences in France and Brazil and the contemporary constitutional set-up in China where parliaments are empowered to adjudicate constitutional issues. It also identifies the lessons thereof for the constitutional design in Ethiopia. Comparison among three legal regimes has been made with regard to the rationales and contexts under which legislative or non-legislative parliaments were entrusted with the power of interpreting constitutions. The experience in France (1799 to 1946), Brazil (1824-1891) and China’s current practice in constitutional interpretation are examined. The experiences across time in different jurisdictions are used to analyze the extent to which (non-)legislative assemblies are appropriate organs to adjudicate constitutional issues. The Constitution of Ethiopia is expected to take lessons from the difficulties encountered from the experiences of France, Brazil and China and resort to other institutional choices for constitutional adjudication.

Key terms

Constitutional adjudication · Constitutional courts · Parliament · House of Federation
AJOL African Journals Online