The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
The dispute centered on whether the decision by the Land Disputes Tribunal (the tribunal) was marred by irregularities due to the absence of proper assessor involvement.
The first question was whether it was necessary to record the opinion of the assessors even when they were in agreement with the chairman of the tribunal. The court asserted that the ‘unclear involvement of assessors in the trial renders such trial a nullity.’ It also stated that it was mandatory for the opinion of the assessors to be on record. It therefore reasoned that there was a serious irregularity in the trial as the assessors had not given their opinion.
Regarding the effect of the change of assessors during the trial the court averred that this was in contravention of section 23(3) of the act as the provision did not contemplate a complete change of all assessors in its latitude.
The above was tied by the fact that the assessors had not been present throughout the whole trial, conduct which resulted in the tribunal not being properly constituted as required by s 23(1) and (2) of the act.
The final question therefore was whether the above could be cured. The court reasoned that the omissions went to the root of the matter and resulted in a failure of justice. It thus concluded that the trial was vitiated by the irregularities and nullified the tribunal’s proceedings.
The matter involved a question of competency of appeal regarding a land dispute.
The court referred to section 47(1) of the Land Disputes Courts Act which allows a person, when aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, to appeal to the Court of Appeal provided they have been granted leave in accordance with the Appellant Jurisdiction Act.
The court reasoned that as there was no valid and surviving leave to appeal, the appeal was incompetent. It considered this failure to comply with a mandatory step in the appeal process as fatal to the appeal and therefore struck out the appeal fo incompetence
The matter involved an application to extend the time period of filing an appeal against an alleged illegal decision of the High Court.
The court began by reiterating that the decision to grant an application for extension is a discretionary power. This discretionary power, however, is judicial in nature and must be confined to the rules of reason and justice. It is also required all relevant factors are considered.
Applying the above to assess the applicant’s reason that the delay stemmed from ignorance of procedure, the court regarded the reasons as insufficient. This was predicated on the case law position that ignorance of law was not a good cause for an extension.
The court also considered the question of the legality of the impugned decision as a possible reason for an extension. It relied on the decision of Lyamuya Construction Company Ltd v Board of Registered Trustees of Young Women's Christian Association of Tanzania Civil Application No. 2 of 2010 which stated that a point of law must be of sufficient importance and apparent on the face of the record to compel the court to allow for an extension. The court thus reasoned that the alleged illegality was not apparent on the face of the decision. Hence, it concluded that since it would require a long-drawn process to decipher the illegalities, illegality was not a sufficient cause for granting an extension.
The matter involved a review application against an appeal court’s decision granted against the applicant.
The main question revolved around whether the grounds for a review application were satisfied. The court relied on rule 66(1) which states that a review application is entertained only if the decision under challenge ‘was based on a manifest error on the face of the record resulting in the miscarriage of justice.’ It also relied on the Charles Barnabas v Republic, Criminal Application No. 13 of 2009 and Chandrakant Joshughai Patel v Republic,  TLR 218 cases for the authority that a review does not challenge the merits of a decision but rather irregularities in the process towards the decision hence why it is not something that can be proved by a long-drawn process of learned argument. In addition, persuasive authority was drawn from the National Bank Of Kenya Limited v Ndungu Njau  eKLR case as authority for the proposition that a review cannot simply be raised on the basis that a different court would have reached a different conclusion on the same facts nor because the court misinterpreted the provisions of the law.
In application, the court reasoned that the grounds proffered by the applicant which included failure to prove lawful occupation of disputed land or the fact of that the disputed land belonged to the Village Council were in fact grounds of an appeal since they went into the merits of the decision.
The court therefore concluded that a review could not be raised on grounds of appeal and consequently struck out the application.
Aggrieved by a High Court decision concerning a dispute with the respondent, the applicant sought leave to escalate the matter to the Court of Appeal. The High Court summarily rejected the application without notice to the parties and prior to the set-down date of the hearing.
The appellate court was wholly convinced by the applicant’s main contention: that the High Court judgment was impugnable because the parties had not yet been heard at the time it was given. Outlining the basic tenets of the audi alterem partem principle, the court affirmed that courts are obligated to afford the parties a full hearing before determining the disputed matter on merit.
The appellate court invoked its revisional powers under section 4(3) of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, setting aside the High Court’s decision and directing it to rehear the application.
The respondent sued the appellant for general damages and restoration of the value of certain of its properties, arising from their sale at a public auction, prompted by a warrant of distress issued under the Income Tax Act. The High Court found that the respondent bore no tax liability to the appellant at the time the warrant was issued, and consequently that the vehicles were unlawfully distrained and sold, before making an award of damages, interest and costs of suit in the respondent’s favour.
On appeal, the tax authority successfully challenged the High Court decision on the grounds of jurisdiction. It contended that the relevant tax legislation (primarily the Income Tax Act, 1973) had established fora to preside over tax disputes at the first instance. As the respondent had failed to exhaust these internal statutory remedies before launching court proceedings, the High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter. The court had ousted the jurisdiction of the specialised fora designed for that very purpose.
Reiterating that jurisdiction may be raised by the parties or suo moto (by the court itself) at any stage of proceedings – even on appeal – the appellate court quashed and set aside the High Court’s decision and upheld the appeal.
This was an application for a revision in respect of execution proceedings and a garnishee order.
The respondent raised preliminary objections: that the court lacked jurisdiction to determine the revision; that the court has not been moved and that the application was bad for not being accompanied with the order sought to be revised.
The court dismissed the final objection since there is no legal requirement for the same.
The court determined that it had jurisdiction, by applying the rule that all revisions of a civil nature in a resident magistrate court shall lie to the high court. The court interpreted this provision to include execution proceedings from resident magistrate courts.
In determining the second objection, the court observed that the applicant had cited non-existent legislation by referring to the Magistrates’ Court Act as the Resident Magistrates Court Act. It applied the rule that when an applicant cites the wrong provision the matter becomes incompetent since the court is not properly moved, to hold that it had not been moved. The court also considered that the applicant wrongly cited s 79 of the Civil Procedure Code. In doing so, it appreciated the difference on revision that may be undertaken per s 79 of the Civil Procedure Code and per ss 43 and 44 of the Magistrates Court Act: s 79 referred to finalized cases while the rest refer to any civil proceedings.
Accordingly, the application was struck out with an order as to costs in favor of the respondent.
This was a ruling based on preliminary objections against an application brought by the applicants.
The respondents submitted that the applicant’s chamber application was in contravention of Order XXIII r 3 of the Civil Procedure Code, 2002. The court observed that the respondents had cited the provisions wrongly and took reference of the right provision (Order XXIII r 1(3). The court determined the interpretation of this provision and specifically whether the prayers sought in the two applications ‘there is no valid injunction after the expiry of six months’ and ‘the order for temporary injunction granted by this court on 28th June 2012, has expired and be vacated’ were similar.
The court applied the rule that one is barred from instituting a fresh suit after withdrawing a suit without securing leave for instituting the same case. The court also observed that this rule is applicable to suits and applications. The court held that they were similar and in absence of an order to have the formally withdrawn application reinstituted, the present application could not stand.
The second respondent raised another preliminary objection based on s 5 of the Oaths and Statutory Declarations Act, 2002 as read with r 2 of the Oaths and Affirmation Rules, 2002, then withdrew it.
Accordingly, the court found merit in the preliminary objection raised by the respondents and struck out the application with and order as to costs excluding three quarter of the costs incurred by the applicant in respect of the abandoned preliminary objection.
This case concerned a dispute between the parties which had previously resulted in the matter being referred to arbitration and an award being handed down. The court considered an application to set aside that award. The respondents made a preliminary objection to this application on three grounds: (1) that the petition could not be heard as the filing fees had not been paid, (2) the application was time-barred, and (3) the failure of the applicant to adduce evidence of the arbitration award.
On the first issue, the respondent contended that as a non-government entity, the failure to pay filing fees renders the applicant’s petition liable to be struck out. However, the court considered the rule that a government party is exempt from making payment of filing fees. In determining who is a ‘government’ party, the court considered that this status extends to local government. Accordingly the applicant is exempt from paying filing fees.
On the issue of the application being time-barred, the court considered the argument that the time within which to institute action started running from the date of publication of the award. The court found that the time for challenging an award starts to run from the day the said award is filed in court for the purpose of registration and adoption. Furthermore, the period of limitation for filing an award without intervention is 6 months, but the time for challenging the same should be brought within 60 days from the date it is filed in court for registration and adoption.
On the third issue (the adduction of the arbitral award), the court considered that it was not properly a preliminary objection per the test articulated in Mukisa Biscuit Manufacturing Ltd v Westend Distributions  EA 696. The question of whether additional evidence ought to have been adduced is not amenable to treatment as a preliminary point of law.
Accordingly, all three preliminary objections were overruled.
The case concerned a dispute about how to commence litigation on behalf of companies. The court held that whether or not failure to seek and obtain the permission of a company to institute litigation or an application is no longer the law in Tanzania. It was held that the issue of jurisdiction will allow a court to investigate factors to determine if the company gave permission to institute court proceedings. However, the party alleging that the company did not give authority must prove their case. Only when there is sufficient evidence will the court investigate the issue of jurisdiction. In this case, the applicant failed to prove his case and the application was dismissed.
The applicants sought leave to defend a summary suit brought by the respondent for outstanding loan amounts. The applicants claimed that if granted leave to defend they would prove that the debt was satisfied in full.
The court held that it was to determine whether the applicant demonstrated a triable issue. The applicant is only required to show a fair and reasonable defense. The amendment to the Civil Procedure Code introduced by the Mortgage Financing Act was applicable in the circumstances. It provided that an applicant may be granted leave to defend a summary suit if he proved that he did not take a loan, or has paid it. The court held that the averment that the debt was paid in full raised a triable issue that can only be proved if the applicants were granted leave to defend.
When considering whether to grant leave to defend a summary suit, the court may consider the principles set out by the Indian Supreme Court in M/S Mechalec Engineers & Manufacturers v M/S Basic Equipment Corporation 1977 AIR 577, that the defendant has a good defense; if the defendant raises a triable issue that they have a fair, good faith, or reasonable defense; if the defendant discloses facts that may be deemed sufficient to entitle them to defend; and if there is no defence, or the defence raised is illusory. These principles are to be applied after the court is satisfied that the applicant has met the requirements of the Mortgage Financing Act amendment to the Civil Procedure Code.
The application was granted.
The court considered the proper remedy for a sub judice matter. Further, if the matter was a pending suit according to High Court Procedure rule 47 in the absence of an application made within six months of the last adjournment.
The court held that in terms of Civil Procedure Code s 8 when a matter is found to be sub judice the proper order is an order for stay of the matter. The court also defined the term ‘hearing’ in the ambit of rule 47 of the High Court Procedure Rules. The court held that the term is neither defined in the rules nor Civil Procedure Code. In that light, the court held that when a matter is called for orders, there is an issue of law or fact which is determined. Further, hearing and trial have different meanings. Therefore, the term hearing in rule 47 covers any judicial session before a judge or registrar.
The court was of the view that it would not deal with the matter because the court and same presiding officer had previously made the order. The court also found that the matter was called for hearing while it was still pending, and the court decided to adjourn the matter sine die. In that light, the court concluded that there was no application made within six months of the last adjournment as required by rule 47.
The court accordingly dismissed the application.
The respondent raised preliminary points against the application on the grounds that a valid and appropriate affidavit did not support the application according to the Civil Procedure Code, Cap 33 of the Revised Edition 2002 order XLIII rule 1. Further, that the application was incompetent for being omnibus.
The court considered whether wrongfully mentioning a person in the chamber of summons which has been sworn by another in support of the application is a fatal ailment. Further, whether the application is omnibus because it contained two applications, namely, for extension of time, if successful a stay of execution.
The court held that wrongfully mentioning a person in the chamber of summons in support of an application is trivial to warrant striking out the whole application. Further taking the course will be conforming to the spirit of the Constitution art 107A (2) (e). The court also held that the vision of the judiciary is to administer justice effectively. Therefore, it would not be inappropriate for courts of law to encourage a multiplicity of proceedings. More so, an application comprising of two or more applications which are interrelated is allowable at law.
The court found that striking out the application will amount to wasting of resources because the applicant would possibly come back later with the replacement of names in the application.
The court accordingly allowed the applicant to substitute the names in the chamber summons, rectify the names by hand with an initial beside the handwriting alteration.
A court can dismiss a matter for want of prosecution where the person who initiated the court action does not take active steps to pursue the case in court such as not appearing in court. The court dealt with a case where the lawyer did not appear before court on the date for hearing. The case was thereafter dismissed for want of prosecution. This case was an application to set aside the order to dismiss the original court suit for want of prosecution.
To set aside an order that a court suit be set aside for want of prosecution, the applicant must give sufficient grounds that must balanced against the interests of justice. In this case, the lawyer for the applicant did not appear because he was unwell on the court hearing date. The court held that this constituted a sufficient reason to set aside the notice to dismiss the case. In the interests of justice and the compelling reasons, the application to set aside the notice to dismiss was granted.
After the failure of mediation between the parties to a dispute, the matter proceeded to litigation. At a certain point, witness statements were to be filed to be filed. The applicant was meant to submit four witness statements but only filed one of them. The applicant thereafter requested an extension of time, citing difficulty obtaining the relevant name from the Ministry of Lands. The court held that the court has the discretion to grant or deny an extension of time, but that the applicant must have a sufficient reason for requesting the extension. The court granted the application because it was clear that the witness statements could not be obtained and filed with the permitted timeframe due to the delay in receiving the names.
In this case the applicant sought relief to set aside an ex parte order. The case illustrates the enquiry into determining who can rightly sue in the name of a corporation.
The court considered whether the High Court had made a consent order, or an ex parte order. The court held that though the order against the fifth respondent was a consent order, the order against the applicant was ex parte because the applicant was not present. The court held that the law gives the remedy to set aside an ex parte order and that it had the power under s 93 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to enlarge the time period for an application.
The court considered the issue as to who was entitled to bring an action for and on behalf of the applicant. The court held that it was the company alone that could initiate or defend proceedings and not a shareholder of the company. The court held that it appeared that there were disputes regarding the internal management of the applicant. Thus, the shareholders or counsel who had initiated the application were not authorised persons.
The application was dismissed and the rest of the arguments regarding extension of time to file the application were set aside without determination.
The main case was whether the issue before this court was directly and substantially in issue with a matter pending in the court below.
The respondent threatened the applicant to cease any operations and vacate a Lake Natron game controlled area it currently occupies (‘the hunting block’). The applicant filed this application, seeking this court to issue an interim order restraining the respondents from evicting them at the hunting block.
The respondent claimed that this court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain this matter as it was res sub judice, and thus should be dismissed. The reason lodged was that the issue in this matter was directly and substantially related to the pending appeal. The applicant argued against these claims and contended that in the pending appeal, he was challenging different issues in relation to this application.
This court applied s 8 of the Civil Procedure Code in determining that the facts and circumstances of this application where identical with the pending matter below, and as such res sub judice.
This application was stayed pending the outcome of the appeal in the court below.
The applicants applied for an extension of time to give a notice of intention to appeal a judgment handed down in 2012. The applicants had previously applied for an extension in 2015, but this was struck out, giving rise to the following application.
The applicants contended that the previous application was not heard on merit, and as a result the court had jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The court found that the plain language of s 11 of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act confers a discretion on the court to grant an extension of time. The discretion must be judiciously exercised after taking into account the circumstances of the case, whether the applicant acted prudently and without delay. On perusing the court record, the court found that the applicants filed a notice of appeal within 30 days of the 2012 decision, but the appeal was struck out in December 2014. The time for filing another proper notice had expired. The court found that the applicants were concerned with their appeal in 2012 until it was struck out in 2014. The fact that the requisite time within which to issue a notice of appeal had expired while they were pursuing their appeal was reasonable and sufficient cause to grant an extension of time for giving notice of an appeal.
The application for extension of time was granted, and notice was to be filed within 14 days of the date of the ruling.