Q&A – 17 October 2022

Group CEO signs termination letter

I am a Tanzanian and an economist by profession. I was employed in Tanzania in the position of chief economist for a company which is registered in Tanzania. After working in Tanzania for six years, I was transferred to the head office of the Group Company which is registered and has its offices outside of Tanzania. In the transfer letter I was told that I have been promoted to the position of the Group Economist and that, save for the salary which was increased, other terms and conditions of the employment contract remained the same. I have been terminated from employment after working for the group for four years. My termination letter was signed by the Group Chief Executive Officer. I would like to know where l should file a case to challenge this termination. Should I file it in Tanzanian Courts or the Courts of the country where I was working at the time of termination? Was the Group Chief Executive Officer competent to sign my termination letter and especially so in the foreign jurisdiction where I was working before the termination or should he have transferred the allegations against me to the Tanzanian entity which employed me for it to take disciplinary action against me?  
ER, Dar es Salaam

Tanzanian employment and labour laws do not have express provisions that answer your questions. However, since you were employed by an entity registered in Tanzania and you never signed a new contract of employment with the Group Company after your transfer, your employment contract likely continued to be governed by the employment and labour laws of Tanzania until the time of termination of your employment. Being transferred by the employer to a foreign jurisdiction does not automatically change the law applicable to the employment contract. Since at the time of termination of your employment, your employment contract was still governed by the employment and labour laws of Tanzania, Tanzanian labour Courts have the jurisdiction over your employment dispute and you can refer your complaint to the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA) in Tanzania for mediation and arbitration in case mediation fails. Whilst you should seek legal advice from foreign lawyers, with the limited information we have, it is likelier than not that the Courts of the country where you were working at the time of termination do not have jurisdiction over your employment dispute which arises from the contract governed by the laws of Tanzania. Your complaint should also be instituted against the entity in Tanzania which employed you and not the Group Company.

We do not see anything wrong with your termination letter being signed by the Group Chief Executive Officer if he is one of the members of the board of directors of the entity in Tanzania which employed you. If he is not a board member of the Tanzanian entity then that might be a valid point for you to raise in the complaint to be lodged at the CMA as one of the grounds to challenge the fairness of the procedure for termination. The law requires the manager taking disciplinary action against an employee to be senior to the employee who is accused of misconduct. We don’t know your organisational structure but it seems to us that the Group Chief Financial Officer is senior to the country managing director. Hence our cursory view is that the disciplinary action against you could not be taken by the managing director of the entity in Tanzania because he is junior to you. Only a board member could take the disciplinary action against you or write a termination letter on behalf of the board of directors.

Compensation for car stolen in parking lot

I parked my car in the hotel car park at night when I was having some drinks with my friends. After drinking I found the car missing and the guards denied seeing anybody taking the car. I told the hotel manager that I wanted the hotel to compensate me for the theft of my car because it was stolen within the hotel’s car park but the manager denied any liability on the ground that at the car park there is a warning that all cars are parked at owners’ risk, so the guest has the duty to ensure the safety of his car. Is this warning enough to absolve the hotel from liability for theft of the car stolen from the hotel’s car park?
TT, Dar

Section 27(2) of the Tourism Act, 2008 sets out two conditions which must be met by a guest for him to qualify to be compensated for theft or loss of the property stolen at the hotel or lodge. The guest must prove that the property was stolen through fault or neglect or willful act of the hotel owner or operator or his employee. The property must have been deposited with or declared to the hotel owner or operator or the employee of the owner or operator. In the absence of express declaration of the property to the hotel owner or the employee of the hotel, it is easy for any guest to claim loss or theft that his property has been stolen from the hotel premises or car park. Hence if at the time you entered the hotel you declared the car to the hotel manager or hotel guard which you likely did, you can claim compensation from the hotel if you can further prove that theft was attributed to the negligence or fault of the hotel guards. A warning itself that the car is parked at the owner’s risk is not enough to exonerate the hotel from liability. Furthermore the hotel might also have insurance who could end up paying for the loss.