Q&A – 8 April 2024

Next friend of a minor

I am a writer based in Arusha and most of my work is based on fiction with inspiration from reality. A recent Court case has inspired me to write a novel where a child star, who was working for a prominent production company in the country, is currently suing the company on issues related to intellectual property rights. I have been following up on the case and even physically attended Court to get all the facts. I however had trouble following up on the terms used in Court. In particular, I had trouble with the term ‘next friend’ which is used every time we are in Court. What does this term mean and why is it used all the time?
AW, Arusha

When legal proceedings involve someone who lacks the capacity to represent themselves, the term ‘next friend’ comes into play. This individual is not part of the lawsuit but is appointed to act on behalf of another person who cannot legally advocate for themselves. Common scenarios where a ‘next friend’ is used include minor children or persons of unsound mind. Minors are persons below the age of majority, which in the case of Tanzania, is 18 years old. Minors generally cannot bring lawsuits themselves. In such cases, a parent or another person whose interests align with the child’s may act as the next friend.

You have not told us the age of the child involved in the case, but believe this is the reason why the term is used in this case. In Tanzania, Suits by or against minors is governed by Order XXXI of the Civil Procedure Code [Cap. 33 R.E 2019]. Under Rule 1 of Order XXXI, it is stated that “every suit by a minor shall be instituted in his name by a person who in such a suit shall be called the next friend of the minor”. Further, Rule 4 of Order XXXI provides that “any person who is of sound mind and has attained majority may act as next friend of a minor or as his guardian for the suit, provided that the interest of such person is not adverse to that of the minor and that he is not, in the case of a next friend, a defendant, or, in the case of a guardian for the suit, a plaintiff.” It is good that you are doing research for your novel.

Since it is based on a legal case you may consider hiring a legal consultant to review your work once you are done writing. We wish you all the best in your upcoming novel.

Plastic surgery in Tanzania

As a law-abiding citizen, I have noted an increase in the number of hospitals offering plastic surgery in Tanzania. My problem with this is that plastic surgery encourages people to alter their appearance which is not good for security reasons. Does the law allow people to change their appearance as they please? Enlighten me on this.
EM, Kilimanjaro

We understand your concern. However we have reviewed laws, regulations and guidelines on public health and found no restriction on plastic surgery. There is no law that prohibits plastic surgery in Tanzania because such surgery is considered essential for health reasons. There are some people who need plastic surgery to reverse damage caused by scars. Others need weight loss to avoid diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These are a few examples which necessitate plastic surgery. Government and private owned hospitals in Tanzania offer plastic surgery services of different kinds. These hospitals are licensed to offer such services to the public. Your concern may be on cosmetic plastic surgery, which we have also found no restriction in the law.

Reward for return of stolen property

I am a car dealer based in Dar es Salaam. Last month we had an unfortunate incident and two expensive cars were stolen from our showroom. The surveillance cameras did not reveal anything. Moreover, even the guards did not see anything suspicious. We have reported the incident to the police but so far have not found the cars. In the hope of finding the stolen cars, we have pasted posters in various parts of the city offering some monetary reward for the return of the cars with no questions asked. One of our neighbours hinted to us to remove the posters because the law does not allow such a practice. Is this true? Please guide us.
SH, Dar es Salaam

Yes, it is true the law does not permit such kinds of offers with no questions asked because they may increase incidences of theft. Section 113 of Penal Code [CAP. 16 R.E. 2022] states that any person who- (a) publicly offers a reward for the return of any property which has been stolen or lost and in the offer makes use of any words purporting that no questions will be asked or that the person producing such property will not be seized or molested; (b) publicly offers to return to any person who may have bought or advanced money by way of loan upon any stolen or lost property the money so paid or advanced, or any other sum of money or reward for the return of the property; or (c) prints or publishes any offer, referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), is guilty of an offence. The aim of this provision is to prevent a moral hazard. Rewarding the thief or a person who has bought stolen property sends the wrong message to the public is what the law is protecting. Having said that, there are other jurisdictions that look at such notices more liberally.