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.
Civil procedure rules – appeal - challenge of record of proceedings
The case was an application seeking to revive a consent judgment set aside by the registrar of the court.
The dispute emanated from an application by the respondent seeking an order to nullify registration of property in the name of the defendants (who are now applicants). The order was granted under an ex parte application because the respondents failed to respond to the suit. The respondents tried without success to appeal the judgment.
The respondents then filed a notice of appeal to the Appeal Court seeking to appeal against the order of the High Court dismissing the application. They also requested an interim order for stay of execution. The applicant (who is now the respondent) objected to the appeal arguing that it was late which was confirmed by the registrar. The respondents referred the matter to a single judge and pending the determination by the judge, the parties entered into a consent judgment which was endorsed by the registrar. The registrar later set aside the consent judgment which the applicants are now seeking to revive.
In deciding the case, the court held that there was no appeal before the single judge because the applicants filed the appeal late. The court ruled that the registrar has no jurisdiction to hear and dispose an appeal. It found that the registrar erred when he entered a consent judgment on a matter which was on appeal before a court. It further ruled that the consent judgment was null and void thus it cannot be revived.
This is an application to annul the consent order that was executed between the respondents and the cancellation of the third respondent’s title. The appeal was issued by the registrar against the decision of a judge who dismissed an application by the first respondent against the second and third respondents. The appeal is premised on grounds that the registrar had no jurisdiction not issue the orders and the consent is illegal.
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.
Although arising from a contractual dispute between the parties – regarding the respondent’s termination of its security services agreement with the appellant – this appeal’s focus was whether certain evidence admitted by the respondent could form part of the record. The documentary exhibits in question were not endorsed in accordance with the Civil Procedure Code.
Distinguishing this case from precedents wherein the court had permitted the inclusion of defectively endorsed documents, it was held that the purported exhibits fatally lacked essential information. This included the absence of the number and title of the suit, the name of the persons who produced them, the date on which they were produced and a statement showing they had been admitted. The court found that permitting such extensive exclusions would create too great a risk of evidentiary tampering.
The exclusion of the documents form the record of appeal rendered it incompetent under the Tanzania Court of Appeal Rules, meaning the appeal had to be struck out. No order of costs was made as the issue was raised by the court suo moto (of its own motion, without the request of the parties).
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.