Q&A – 25 July 2022

Two owners for one car

My father was a mechanic and owned a garage. He died three years ago and bequeathed the garage to me and my elder brother. After his death, we called all the clients whose vehicles were undergoing maintenance in that garage and every client with a car came and identified their car and took it from the garage except for one car. After two years, we advertised twice in a newspaper calling for the owner of the vehicle to appear and take it otherwise we would sell it after a lapse of twenty-one days from the date of the first advertisement. A week ago, two people appeared each claiming to be the owner of that vehicle.  I am very confused as to who is a legitimate owner of the vehicle. Please advise me on how to handle this issue. Can we recover our advertisement and other costs incurred in respect of the vehicle from the legitimate owner, if identified?
YK, Temeke

We advise you to institute an interpleader suit against both the claimants. You will be a plaintiff and the claimants will be defendants. Section 63 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) states that where two or more persons claim adversely to one another the same debt, sum of money or other property, movable or immovable, from another person who claims no interest therein other than for charges or costs and who is ready to pay or deliver it to the rightful claimant, such other person may institute a suit of interpleader against all the claimants for the purpose of obtaining a decision as to the person to whom the payment or delivery shall be made and of obtaining indemnity for himself. However, the law further states that where any suit is pending in which the rights of parties can properly be decided, no such suit of interpleader shall be instituted.

The procedure for instituting an interpleader suit is well elaborated under Order XXXIII of the CPC. It goes that in every suit of interpleader a normal plaint is filed in Court. In addition to other statements necessary for your plaint, you will have to state that you claim no interest in that vehicle in dispute other than your charges or costs; that the claims over the ownership of vehicle subject of the suit were made by the defendants severally; and that you have not colluded with any of the defendants.

As regards to your costs and charges in respect of the motor vehicle in question, you will have to plead the same in the plaint and support your claims with requisite documents like invoices and receipts. Rule 6 of the Order states that where the suit is properly instituted, the Court may provide for the costs of the plaintiff by giving him a charge on the thing claimed or in some other effectual way. Note that the Court will require you to prove that the costs incurred were necessary and were incurred wholly and exclusively in respect of the vehicle in question. Your advocate can guide you on a proper Court for adjudicating the matter and on a detailed interpleader suit procedure.

Ademption of legacies in a Will

My father prepared his Will ten years before his death. At the time of preparing the Will one of the buildings was a bar annexed with a recreation hall. Three years before his death he converted it into a Pentecostal Christian church. After conversion he changed the bar and hall into a church for worship of his congregation. A Will was read after my father’s death bequeathing a bar and the annexed hall to me. My father’s fellow worshippers and my sister who got converted also are up in arms resisting my bequest. I want to sue for my right. Guide me.
TL, Musoma

We are sorry to tell you that your suit will not succeed to enable you retain your legacy of the bar and annexed hall as stated in the Will of your demised father. The law is that if anything has been specifically bequeathed but does not belong to a testator at the time of his death, or has been converted into property of a different kind, the legacy cannot take effect by reason of the subject matter having been withdrawn from the operation of the Will. At the time of preparing the Will, the property which your father bequeathed to you was a bar and the annexed recreation hall and not a church. In that respect, the bar and the annexed recreation hall were deemed three years before your father’s death and for that matter it was withdrawn from the operation of your father’s Will. Your advocate can guide you further.

Administration of the deceased gun

My uncle passed away recently and one of the properties he left is a gun. We have already held a clan meeting and proposed my brother to be the administrator of the deceased estate though he has not petitioned the Court for appointment. However, we are doubtful if we can list the gun as one of the properties to be administered by the administrator and we don’t know if the law allows distribution of the deceased gun to the heir. Please guide.
ST, Katavi

Under section 55 of the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act, 2015, where a firearm licensed holder dies, the gun is disposed of by the Registrar of Firearms according to the laws and regulations governing the control of firearms and ammunition and not according to the laws governing probate and administration of the deceased estate. We advise you to surrender the gun to the police and write to the Registrar to seek his guidance on how to dispose of the gun. The continued possession of the gun by any family member who is not licenced to do so amounts to unlawful possession of firearm which is a punishable offence.