Q&A – 23 October 2017

Choice of suit for wedding

My boyfriend and I are intending to get married. He is a reasonably good guy but has no sense of dressing. I want to make sure that for our wedding he sticks to a black suit, and not flashy colours that he sometimes wears. I cannot trust that he will abide and if this is the case I would rather not get married. Can I force him to wear a black suit? Can I sign on the marriage forms, and if I am not happy tear the forms right there?
TT, Dar

Your boyfriend can decide to wear what he wants as there is no dress protocol for weddings under our laws. It is quite common to wear a darker coloured suit but that is a person’s choice. What you can do is to enter into an agreement with him to wear a black suit, and if he doesn’t, you can choose not to proceed with the wedding and also sue him for damages.

Remember that you are not his wife until you sign the forms. Once you sign, even if you tear them, you are still his wife until you get divorced. So be careful. This agreement will need to be properly drafted as it can otherwise be challenged as being against the principles of a union between a man and woman.

Child with no name

I wish to have a child but do not wish him to give him a name. Can I do that?
YU, Dar

You are one of the very few parent in the world who does not want to name his child. Normally parents take pride in naming their children after their ancestors or otherwise.

In any case, the Law of the Child Act caters for people like yourselves. Section 6 of this Act states that a child shall have a right to a name, nationality and to know his biological parents and extended family. It also states that a person shall not deprive a child of the right to a name, nationality and to know his biological parents and members of extended family subject to the provisions of any other written laws. This law makes it mandatory for each parent or guardian to register the birth of their child with the Registrar General. In short, you cannot not name your child. The law makes it mandatory to name your child.

New offence in criminal law

If at the time I acted in a certain manner, it was not a crime to do so, but subsequently the law changed and it has now become a crime, can I be charged? In short, what I did way back then is an offence today- can I still be charged?
OO, Morogoro

Our Constitution protects you here. Article 13(6) states that to ensure equality before the law, the state authority shall make procedures which are appropriate or which take into account the following principles, namely: (a) when the rights and duties of any person are being determined by the court or any other agency, that person shall be entitled to a fair hearing and to the right of appeal or other legal remedy against the decision of the court or of the other agency concerned; (b) no person charged with a criminal offence shall be treated as guilty of the offence until proved guilty of that offence; (c) no person shall be punished for any act which at the time of its commission was not an offence under the law, and also no penalty shall be imposed which is heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed; (d) for the purposes of preserving the right or equality of human beings, human dignity shall be protected in all activities pertaining to criminal investigations and process, and in any other matters for which a person is restrained, or in the execution of a sentence; (e) no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment.

Paragraph (c) above fully protects you as in you cannot now be charged for something that was not an offence at that time.

Registering a trademark in Tanzania

How long does it take to register a trademark in Tanzania? How does the process work? What can I not register as a trademark? 
PP, Arusha

A trade or service mark shall be registered if it is distinctive. The whole process of registering trademarks in Tanzania is governed by the Trade and Service Marks Act No. 12 of 1986. The registration process in Tanzania takes between 4 to 6 months if there is no opposition.

Registration of a trade or service mark shall not be considered validly granted until the application has fulfilled the conditions for registration. Application for registration of a trade mark/service mark is made by filling a form called TM/SM 2 accompanied by form TM/SM 3. The application forms together with not less than 6 loose representations of a mark are submitted to the Registrar who examines the mark. If the Registrar accepts the mark then the mark is allowed to proceed for advertisement in the Journal published by the Registrar on a monthly basis. If within sixty days of advertisement of the mark there is no opposition raised then the Registrar will proceed to issue the certificate of Registration upon payment of a registration fee.

According to section 19 of the Trade and Service Marks Act No. 12 of 1986, the trade or service marks which the use would be contrary to the law or morality or which would be likely to deceive or cause confusion to the public will not be allowed for registration. For example trademarks which are identical with or imitate flags, initials, abbreviations, names or official sign or hallmark of any state or of any organization created by an International Convention, unless authorized by the competent authority of that state or international organization, cannot be registered.