Q&A – 4 February 2019

Buying water at work

Our boss is on a cost cutting spree. He has stopped all water suppliers from providing water to our offices and we are now required to buy water. He says in order to survive every penny counts including not using ACs in cars. Is all this legal?

UT, Dar

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act it is mandatory for the employer to provide a supply of drinking water in suitably covered vessels and shall be renewed daily.  This law further states that all practical measures shall be taken to prevent the water and vessels from contamination; and the drinking water supply, whether laid or not, shall, in such case as an inspector may direct, be clearly indicated in Swahili and English. Further all containers or vessels containing harmful liquids or which are used to contain harmful liquids shall not be used for storing drinking water. It is thus clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide you with drinking water and you cannot be charged for this.

On the ACs in the car, we have not found any provision that disallows your employer, for operational reasons, to do so.

Irritating mass marketing emails

I keep on getting mass marketing e mails from suppliers of various products from cement and mobile phones, to caterers and hotels. I have never asked them to send these adverts and promotions and yet I receive them. Is sending such mass communication legal? If I buy goods or services from such online suppliers, how does one enter into a contract without signing it on hard paper?

EL, Dar

The Electronic Transactions Act of 2015, which is an important but very new law specifically addresses this in that (1) a person shall not send unsolicited commercial communication on goods or service unless- (a) the consumer consents to the communication;  (b) at the beginning of the communication, the communication discloses the identity of sender and its purpose; and  (c) that communication gives an opt-out option to reject further communication.   (2)  The consent requirement is deemed to have been met where- (a) the contact of the addressee and other personal information were collected by the originator of the message in the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale;  (b) the originator only sends promotional messages relating to its similar products and services to the addressee;  (c) the originator offered the addressee the opportunity to opt-out  and the addressee declined to opt-out; and  (d) an opportunity to opt-out is provided by the originator to the addressee with every subsequent message.   (3)  An originator who contravenes this section commits an offence and shall, upon conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than ten million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not less than one year or to both.

You can see that such unsolicited messages are illegal especially if you had not consented and are unable to opt out from receiving them.

The same law recognises formation of contracts electronically and states that (1) for avoidance of doubt, a contract may be formed electronically unless otherwise agreed by the parties. (2) Where an electronic record is used in the formation of a contract, that contract shall not be denied validity or enforceability on the ground that an electronic record was used for that purpose.

New manager charged with old manager’s wrong

The former manager of our company had not complied with a certain law and has been summoned to appear before one of the authorities to show cause. I am the new manager having just started my job and the summons only reads the manager. However, at the time of the issue, it was him he was in charge not me. Unfortunately, he was an expat and has left the country. Who should attend this show cause summons?

RL, Mwanza

What you would like to hear is that it is the manager who was here at the time of the offence who should appear. Unfortunately, unless the law under which the title manager is charged states so, the summons is made out on the title. It does indeed sound very unfair but section 66 of the Interpretation of Laws Act clarifies this stating that any civil or criminal proceedings taken by or against any person by virtue of his office shall not be discontinued or abate by his death, resignation or absence or removal from office, but may be carried on by or against, as the case may be, the person for the time being holding that office.

Police interrogation time limit

I was taken in for police interview and spent the entire day there from 9am to 7pm, and then admitted to bail after having to plead with the officer that I did not want to be held in custody as it was a minor bailable offence which i was denying in any case. I was told that the police in charge who could allow bail was attending a function but I finally managed to get of him and get bail. My question is on how long can an officer interview me because by the end of the interview I was extremely tired and stressed. The officer kept on asking the same question over and over again, slowly writing on his notepad. Is there no time limit under the law?

CC, Moshi

The Criminal Procedure Act has provided under section 50 that (1) for the purpose of this Act, the period available for interviewing a person who is in restraint in respect of an offence is– (a) subject to paragraph (b), the basic period available for interviewing the person, that is to say, the period of four hours commencing at the time when he was taken under restraint in respect of the offence.

Paragraph (b) in principle excludes time when you are waiting for your lawyer, or the time when you are not being interviewed. However, the basic time frame for the interview is 4 hours, which however can be extended to another four hours for reasonable cause.