Analysis of Issues Regarding Rural Land Rights of a Spouse Acquired by Non-onerous Title in Oromia Region
This article examines the status of rural land rights of a spouse acquired by non-onerous title in Oromia Region through analysis of pertinent legal frameworks, interviews, court cases, laws of selected countries and available literature. The findings reveal that there are three approaches to rural land rights of spouses acquired by non-onerous title followed by different countries, i.e., uniform, pluralistic and contribution based approaches. Among these approaches, an approach that has legal ground in the Oromia Region is the uniform approach. That means, such rural land rights are considered as private holding of the spouse like other chattels. On top of these, from data analysis, it is revealed that exceptionality approach, which regards such rural land rights as common holding if another spouse has been using the land, has become dominant especially at the higher courts of the Region and the Federal
Supreme Court Cassation Division. Unlike other jurisdictions, there is yet no legal basis to adopt this approach in the Region. To add complexity to the matter, existing decisions of the House of Federation (HoF) affirmed the uniform approach. Overall, inconsistent decisions were given on this issue. To rectify this inconsistency which negatively affects predictability of court decisions and public confidence in court of law, this study suggested that family and rural land laws have to be revisited, existing precedent system has to be enriched by legal reasons, and rural land rights enshrined under laws shall be properly implemented.