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Q&A – 4 December 2017

Effect of old forgotten laws

There are a number of laws that I have come across during my research that are old, irrelevant and forgotten, do not make sense, refer to India and Great Britain, but were passed by our parliament. Can these laws be enforced even though they are forgotten and have escaped the legal landscape? As a law student I fail to understand why these laws have not yet been repealed.
TY, Dar

This issue faces many countries not Tanzania alone. The general principle is that once a law comes into force it is enforceable, whether it is ‘forgotten’ or not. If it is unenforceable because of changing times, then there is nothing to worry about because it is overtaken by events. However if the law is implementable but leads to absurd results, then its implementation can be questioned and Courts may intervene. However that doesn’t change the fact that it is still good law until Courts do so, or parliament repeals the law. You must realise that it is also your duty as a good corporate citizen to alert relevant authorities about such laws. Unfortunately you have not listed them for us but we do know they exist and may have not been repealed despite their irrelevance today.

About ten years ago, the Daily Telegraph ran an article on some ridiculous laws. For example it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament; it is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down; in Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store; mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day; in Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter; in the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet; the head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen; it is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing; it is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour; in the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

Other outrageous laws that were listed in that article included the following: in Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk; in Bahrain, a male doctor can only examine the genitals of a woman in the reflection of a mirror; in Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself standing up after 10pm; in Alabama, it is illegal to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle; in Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed; in Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth; in Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except funerals or hospital visits; in Japan, there is no age of consent; in France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon. Whether true or not, other countries face the same challenges that you have spotted. We recommend you list such laws and forward them to the Law Reform Commission of Tanzania.

Company refuses to transfer shares of late husband

My husband was majority shareholder of a company and died. In his Will, I was the executor and beneficiary and after few months I managed to get a probate from the High Court. I used that to transfer his shares into my name, as per the Will, but the company is refusing to accept it claiming they were not informed of this. What should I do?
RL, Arusha

The Companies Act states very clearly that the production to a company of any document which is by law sufficient evidence of probate of the will, or letters of administration of the estate, of a deceased person having been granted to some person; or the Administrator-General having undertaken administration of an estate under the Administrator-General’s Ordinance (Cap. 27).

Provided that a company shall not be bound to give notice under this shall be accepted by the company, notwithstanding anything in its articles, as sufficient evidence of such grant or undertaking. The Companies Act from the above gives you full protection. You have not stated grounds that the other shareholders and or directors are refusing to transfer the shares. We do not see them having any such reservations especially when these shares have been inherited by you under your husbands Will.

If this behavior continues, your attorney can consider taking the matter to Court to compel the other shareholders to recognize your shareholding. Meanwhile there might be major pilfering going on in the company and you might not want to delay this any further.

Breach of privacy

I sent my 14 year old boy to South Africa for some trials in a sports academy. Before they admitted him, he was escorted to the male bathroom to do a urine test. I protested but they said that this was compulsory. Is that not breach of his constitutional right to privacy?
QO, Dar

This issue has been debated in many countries and our research shows that it has almost always been in favour of the institute conducting the test. When your son was to take a urine test, he was likely escorted to a toilet but unlikely that they watched him during the process. We must point out that our answer cannot be more specific as our constitution does not stretch as far as South Africa on such matters. You might need to contact a local lawyer who can guide you further.

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