I lent 10,000 Ethiopian Birr to another person. We did not make any written agreement to that effect; he asked me in person and I issued a cheque and he has withdrawn it from the bank. When the time for payment lapsed, he refused to admit that I lent him money. He argues that there is no written instrument that confirms my allegation. Cannot I claim my money back?

Any contract of loan that exceeds 500 Ethiopian Birr can only be proved in writing or by a confession made or oath taken in court according to Article 2472 of the Civil Code. And the burden to prove that there was a loan agreement lies on you as per Article 259/1 of the Civil Procedure Code. You do not have a written loan contract, you only issued a cheque. Whether a cheque can serve as a written agreement of loan can be controversial but the Ethiopian Cassation Bench, in volume 21 file number 123984, has decided that a cheque cannot be a means to prove a loan agreement. It reasoned out that a cheque is a means of payment but does not show if it was a loan or not. As the decision of the Cassation is binding, your chance of winning litigation in court on the basis that there was a loan agreement is less. But, it does not mean that there are no ways to claim your money back?

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