Q&A – 8 July 2024

Replying ‘noted’ in pleadings

I bought a piece of land located in the outskirts of Mbeya city. The purchase price of this land has been a subject of dispute for 5 years now. The lawyer handling this dispute passed away last year forcing me to hire another lawyer. This new lawyer is a young fellow who was recently admitted as an advocate. This young lawyer told me the case does not look good for me since in the written statement of defence, my former lawyer replied noted regarding the disputed purchase price. According to my new lawyer, this amounts to an automatic acceptance of the price on my part and therefore I cannot challenge this fact now. Is this position correct?
AS, Mbeya

We do not have all the facts of your case, however, based on our review of Court decisions on pleadings, your lawyer is correct. Courts have in numerous decision stated that parties are bound by their pleadings. As such, a party cannot depart from what they pleaded since doing so is to set up a new case. Specific to your question, the Courts have clearly stated when a party replies to a fact in a pleading using the words ‘noted’, that fact will be considered as accepted. Since your case concerns immovable property, order VII rule 3 and 5 of the Civil Procedure Code, [Cap. 33 R.E. 2019] (the Civil Procedure Code) requires where the immovable property is a landed property, the plaint  should clearly identify the suit land and show the defendant’s liability. If you truly indicated in your written statement of defence that the said paragraph on the purchase price was noted by virtue of the provision of order VII rule 3 and 5 of the Civil Procedure Code you are considered to have admitted liability on the value of the suit land as stated by the other party. Your lawyer can guide you further on this.

Tax obligation for cargo consolidator 

I am a cargo consolidator who has been helping small businesses and individuals source their goods internationally for the past 10 years. I have always been meticulous in my operations, ensuring timely deliveries and competitive rates. My role is to simply ease the shipping costs for my clients and for that reason there is no significant profit from this business. Recently, I was informed by a fellow cargo consolidator that there is a new law that has implications on our business. What is the new law and what has it changed? Kindly guide me.
SM, Dar es Salaam

Cargo consolidation has existed for a long time, however, recently many cargo consolidators have emerged in Tanzania. The number of people that now claim to offer cargo consolidation services is alarmingly high. Unfortunately, some legal loop holes have also been uncovered. These include undervaluation of the cargo and surpassing permits requirements to mention a few. There is also unfair competition between conventional cargo operators and the emerging cargo consolidators who are often not licensed. The government through the Finance Act, 2024 (Act No. 6 of 2024) amended the Tax Administration Act [Cap.438 R.E 2019] (Tax Administration Act) and introduced legal obligations that cargo consolidators are required to comply with. According to section 3 of the Tax Administration Act, a cargo consolidator means a person licensed by a competent authority to operate cargo consolidation and deconsolidation business. Further, section 24A of the Tax Administration Act provides that a cargo consolidator is required to comply with customs and other laws and procedures governing deconsolidation of cargo to its owners at the time of importation of goods in the country.This includes paying taxes based on the requirements of the law. The rationale is that cargo consolidation services are adding value to the overall shipping process, and therefore, should be contributing to the tax base. Your lawyer can guide you further.

Rotational savings schemes ‘mchezo’

I am a recent college graduate who is lucky to have secured employment. I have been approached by a co-worker, about a promising ‘financial opportunity’. This person explained to me that some colleagues at the office have a rotational savings scheme where participants contribute a fixed amount and, in return, take turns to receive a larger pay out from the pool of funds. Of course I was intrigued because the arrangement sounded interesting. However, I want to make sure this arrangement is legitimate. Are these kinds of schemes regulated by law? Please enlighten me.
HG, Kilimanjaro

Rotational savings schemes have been operating for years in many places. Nonetheless, this kind of saving scheme is informal and involves participants contributing a fixed sum of money that is given out to an individual or individuals within the group on a rotational basis. These informal savings groups are generally considered a high-risk investment. They rely on trust among participants in making their contributions, something which is not guaranteed. For that reason, in some jurisdictions, such schemes have been declared illegal and are considered as a form of fraud. In the case of Tanzania, a study commissioned by the Bank of Tanzania discovered that rotational saving schemes famously called ‘mchezo’ are often used to supplement formal financial savings structures. In some instances, these informal financial groups even provide credit to participants against conventional banking practices.

Our review of relevant laws and regulations reveals that these saving groups are a grey area because their operations are informal. However, if the said savings scheme operates as a pyramid scheme, section 171A of the Penal Code, [Cap. 16 R.E. 2022] is clear that it will amount to an offence. In general, a pyramid scheme promises substantial amounts of money upon little investment. This arrangement is not sustainable eventually leaving many people with significant financial losses. Please be informed about the risks before you decide to be involved in the savings scheme. Your lawyer can guide you further.