Q&A – 29 September 2014

Husband dictates naming of children

I am a married woman living in Dar. My husband and I are educated and work in the public sector. God has blessed us with three Children and we soon expect our fourth child as I am pregnant. Unfortunately my husband has been the only one giving names to our children and he has always done so using names of his clan. He has even chosen a name for the child we expect which has resulted into arguments as I would like to name this child. Is there a law that governs naming of children? Please guide.
OL, Mwanza

The law of Child Act, Act No. 21 of 2009 under Section 6 provides that a child shall have a right to a name, nationality and to know his biological parents and extended family. It provides further 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. Also each parent or guardian shall be responsible for the registration of the birth of his child to the Registrar-General.

Unfortunately there is no law that dictates whether the father or mother should name the child. There is also no case law for us to guide you on. We suggest you get some elders to sit with you and resolve this. You might be able to resolve this dispute in Court, but the Court system is back logged and by the time your dispute is resolved, you might already have delivered.

Directors’ names on company letterhead

I have established an information technology company and have already started business. Is it a requirement of the law that every company should have a letterhead? What should be the contents in the said letterhead? I find this to be expensive to print and thus looking at ways of avoiding this. What should I do?
GJ, Dar

You will certainly need letterheads when you are writing formal letters and hence are unsure what you really mean. Printing letterheads is not expensive and you always have the option of printing letterheads directly from your printer.

On the contents of the letterheads, section 213 of the Companies Act provides that every company shall, in all business documentation on or in which the company’s name appears and which is issued or sent by the company to any person in any part of the territory, state in legible letters with respect to every director being a corporation, the corporate name, and with respect to every director being an individual, the following particulars (a) his present name, or the initials thereof, and present surname; (b) any former names and surnames: Provided that, if special circumstances exist which render it in the opinion of the Registrar expedient that such an exemption should be granted, the Registrar may by order grant, subject to such conditions as may be specified in the order, exemption from all or any of the obligations imposed.

Also if a company defaults in complying with this requirement, every officer of the company who is in default shall be liable on conviction for each offence to a fine, and for the purposes of this subsection, where a corporation is an officer of the company, any officer of the corporation shall be deemed to be an officer of the company. The expression ”director” includes any person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of the company are accustomed to act and the expression ”officer” shall be construed accordingly. The expression ”initials” includes a recognized abbreviation of a name.

We must point out that a lot of the companies in Tanzania fail to comply with the explicit provisions of the Companies Act which provides that on letterheads name of directors amongst other must be mentioned.

Contract to marry

While I was at University about nine years ago, I entered into a contract with a certain lady friend in that if both of us turned 30 and were not married or seriously involved with another person, then we will marry each other. Last month we both turned 30 and she confirmed to me that she is neither married nor in any serious relationship, but she is also not interested in me anymore even though I am rich and powerful. This is a breach of agreement and I want to take her to Court for this so that she can be ordered to marry me. I still want her.
TK, Moshi

The contract of marriage is not like any other contract. It is ultimately governed by the love that both parties have towards each other. You may still want her, but she doesn’t want you. Even if a Court forces her to marry you, which it won’t, then the fundamental purpose of marriage is defeated.

The Law Marriage Act provides that, “a suit may be brought for damages for the breach of a promise of marriage made in Tanganyika whether the breach occurred in Tanganyika or elsewhere, by the aggrieved party or, where that party is below the age of eighteen years, by his or her parent or guardian. No suit shall be brought for specific performance of a promise of marriage.”

Therefore the Law of Marriage Act provides on claim for damages if a party breaches a promise to marry. In your case, depending on further background information that you can provide your lawyers, damages might be claimable but we don’t believe you have a strong case. What we know surely is that if this woman doesn’t change her mind about you, than you will have to start your search again. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich and powerful- it is the woman who decides whether she will marry you or not.