I owned a motor vehicle which I sold one year ago and gave its registration card to the buyer upon signing the sale agreement. However, I did not notify Tanzania Revenue Authority of the disposition of the car because I agreed with the buyer that he would have notified the TRA and bear the necessary fee for change of ownership in the registration card. Last week I was arrested by traffic police who told me that my vehicle had knocked down a pedestrian and caused his death. I told them that I sold the car one year ago and showed them the sale agreement but they claimed that since the car is still registered in my name, I am the one responsible for the accident unless I disclose my driver who was driving the vehicle at the time of accident. This looks unfair to me. Can you guide me if the traffic police are right or wrong?
Section 15 of the Road Traffic Act creates a presumption of ownership of a motor vehicle in that, a person in whose name the motor vehicle remains registered is presumed to be the owner of the vehicle unless it is proved to the contrary. Moreover, it is the seller of a motor vehicle who has the obligation under section 16 of the Road Traffic Act to notify the TRA on the disposition of a motor vehicle and apply for the change of ownership from him to the buyer. Not the other way round as you had structured in your sale agreement.
Since the motor vehicle remains registered in your name, you have the burden to rebut the presumption of ownership of the vehicle. In our view the sale agreement is enough to rebut the presumption of ownership of a motor vehicle if it is proved to be a genuine sale agreement and not an agreement just created to escape liability. Your lawyer can guide you further.