Q&A – 5 February 2018

Newspaper blackmailed me, published false story

A very notorious newspaper journalist in Dar started blackmailing me about a private story, which is untrue, and he demanded TZS 3M from me to stop it from being published. I told him I would not pay even a cent and he proceeded publishing it as a second lead story on the front page. This has caused me huge embarrassment especially considering that the story is outrageously false. I have now learnt that it is not uncommon for this newspaper to be involved in such blackmail. I want to sue the newspaper and journalist for defamation and want to learn from you the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Kindly guide me.
IP, Dar

A number of defamation cases have been filed and won by private citizens in Tanzania. Many have been settled off Court as well. Private citizens as opposed to corporates have a much lower bar to prove. You must prove that the story was factually wrong, that it was published and referred to you, and damaged your reputation. The advantages of suing are that you might end up getting damages, the newspaper may never write about the same topic on you again and you may be able to correct the record.

The disadvantages are that you may also be in the hot seat during trial as the newspaper’s lawyer can also ask you questions, some of which can be personal and embarrassing. The defence counsel may also want to further investigate the factual correctness of the story so you better be sure that it is untrue! Lastly, you will incur fees and hence must consider the legal costs vis a vis the benefits. Tanzanian Courts have not been very aggressive in awarding large damages but this is slowly changing.

Lastly, under our Newspapers Act, you can sue the proprietor, publisher, printer or editor of the newspaper. Your lawyers can guide you on whom to sue.

Change of law affects Investment Agreement returns

I have a stability clause in my agreement with the Government which is now being affected by the introduction of new legislation. It is costing me more funds on compliance, reducing profitability and is changing the economics of the project that I had envisaged when I had invested. Does such legislation apply to me, and if so, how do I invoke the stabilization clause.
PP, Dar

Your question raises a very important point pertaining to international investment law. We are sorry that the new legislation has negative consequences on your business. Since the stabilization clauses are usually pure contractual matters between the Government and an investor, they do not fetter the powers of the Parliament to amend laws or enacting new ones. For this reason, the new legislation, which unfortunately you had not envisaged when making the investment, applies to you.

Whilst we have not seen the exact wording of your stabilization clause, it is likely that you will be entitled to be brought to the position you would have been in in case the law had not changed. Hence, if you will be losing out on profitability because of the change in law, you would likely be entitled to being compensated for such loss based on the agreement.

You will need to read the agreement on what you have to do to ensure that you notify the Government about this change of law, and how it is affecting you. You should not delay in relaying such information as it can affect the amount of damages that you might be awarded.

Further, most of such investment agreements have international arbitration clauses inserted and if everything fails, you will have to invoke this clause. Before arbitrating we strongly recommend that you try resolving this amicably, as arbitration is both costly and can be time consuming.

Biological father not supporting child

I was dating a man who impregnated me. I bore a child and apart from deserting us, he has not provided a penny for the child’s maintenance. Is there a law that allows me to claim from him? How long would such an order be valid for and what else do I need to do to succeed.
TT, Moshi

Indeed there is a law that comes to your rescue. Section 42 of the Law of Child Act allows you, as a parent of the child, to apply to Court for a maintenance order. Section 43, amongst others, adds that an application for a maintenance order may be made against the biological father by the expectant mother at any time before the birth of the child or at any time within twenty four months from the birth of the child.

You must prove that he is the father of the child, and that he has refused to make any payments when he was requested to do so. In making the maintenance order, the Court will normally take into consideration the income and wealth of both parents, any impairment of the earning capacity of the person with whom the child is, the cost of living of the area where the child is resident and the rights of the child under the Law of Child Act. Generally speaking the maintenance order expires either when the child attains 18 years, is gainfully employed or dies before attaining the age of 18.