Q&A – 18 November 2013

Taping my phone

My husband and I have been having issues over almost everything we do and he has always been suspecting me of having an affair with an office colleague, a fact which is untrue. It has come to my attention that my husband has been getting copies of my sms from the service provider. Does a husband have a right to do that? He says he can because he is my husband. Can he also demand to check my phone when I am at home?
UY, Dar

The Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania provides and protects the right of privacy of every individual in Tanzania. Hence unless sanctioned by the order of the court or any other institution which is mandated under the law to interfere with the right to privacy of an individual for the purposes of national security or security of other persons, such interference is illegal. No person, either a husband or a wife, is entitled under the law to obtain the sms details of his or her spouse from the service provider.

The Electronic and Communications Act and its regulations clearly prohibit the service providers from providing such information to any person unless otherwise sanctioned by the order of the court or unless the person with the phone number requests for such details.

What your husband is doing is illegal under the law and it is an offence for which he can be penalized. If you manage to obtain proof that the service provider has issued such details to your husband without your approval, you may also have a claim against the service provider because they are also in breach of the law and you can claim damages. For further guidance consult your attorney.

Government contracts not recognized by TRA

There is a contract we entered into with the Government which was signed by the relevant sector Ministry. There are many terms of the contract that TRA has to stick to but they say the contract does not have the force of the law and we must contact the Attorney General. We do not understand why we should be doing the running around when we were invited to come invest in Tanzania. Can we sue the Government?
WO, Dar

There is no law in Tanzania that disallows you from suing the Government. Unfortunately, this is not the fi rst time we are hearing about this where a sector Ministry enters into a contract, and the Tanzania Revenue Authority sadly rejects to stick to the contract on grounds that it has no force of the tax laws.

Unfortunately, you have not told us what type of contract this is, and whether such type of contract is provided for under the law. Generally speaking and to ensure that you can enjoy the tax benefits under the contract, appropriate tax legislation needs to be changed and most of the times gazetted to ensure that the contract benefits pertaining to tax have the force of law.

However many a times TRA has been rejecting contracts that already have the force of law and such rejection by TRA is challengeable.

The best option you have is to contact the Ministry of Finance for intervention who in consultation with the AG and sector Ministry can address this.

Much as we agree with you that the TRA should assist the Government by coordinating this with the Ministry of Finance, which would also be more investor friendly, unfortunately that is not always expedient.

Should you not get what you bargained for with the Government under the agreement, you can proceed under the dispute resolution clause and proceed to either sue or refer the dispute to arbitration. Your lawyers can guide you further.

Beer brand misleading

I have been drinking a particular beer because their adverts show all those drinking it surrounded by beautiful women. In the last year that I have been drinking it, I have not been successful even once. Can I sue the beer company for misrepresentation and financial loss?
LE, Dar

It is true that suing is not very diffi cult but we believe you are taking this a little too far. We have not seen any adverts in Tanzania by beer companies where they explicitly say that by drinking more of a certain beer brand, you will be surrounded by beautiful women.

The adverts you see are a publicity tool that uses beautiful people to attract one to purchase a product. We believe you have a very weak case from the facts provided. We are also unsure what fi nancial loss you have suffered especially now that you have consumed all the beer. Your attorney can guide you further.

Boss proposed to marry me

When I was on leave my boss sent a text that he liked me and wanted to marry me. I am not prepared for marriage and was shocked at the proposal. I declined. Should I go back to work?
UZ, Dar

The question doesn’t seem to be a legal question. There is nothing illegal about your boss proposing you, and you declining. People propose each other every minute and that is how families are built.

We do not see why you should not go back to work unless you think that there will be harassment of a sort which will affect you. If you are harassed, the law provides for you to report this and claim damages. We are of the opinion there are various other details we may not have to guide you. We suggest you contact a counsellor and an attorney prior to deciding what to do.