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Enforcement of foreign maintenance orders

I was married to a Tanzanian. Our marriage was contracted in the United Kingdom and ended having a matrimonial dispute which ended up in Court in the UK. The UK Court granted me a judgment and divorce and ordered my former husband to pay maintenance allowance to me and our three children. Immediately after the Court issued the decree, my former husband left and travelled back to Tanzania where he is currently working in one of the multinational companies. How can I enforce the maintenance order issued by an overseas Court against my former husband who is currently living and working in Tanzania?

PL, Dar

Section 141 to 144 of the Law of Marriage of Act [Cap.29 R.E 2019] prescribes the procedure for execution of maintenance orders issued by Courts of foreign jurisdictions.

The first condition for execution of maintenance orders issued by a foreign Court is the existence of the reciprocal arrangement between Tanzania and the foreign country whose Court issued the maintenance order sought to be executed in Tanzania.

Reciprocal arrangement is an undertaking that the foreign nation undertakes to give assistance it seeks from Tanzania in case Tanzania needs similar assistance from that foreign country. The arrangement does not necessarily need to be a bilateral treaty.

If such reciprocal arrangement exists, and in the case of the UK we believe it does (your lawyers should also double check), the maintenance order issued by the UK Court can be sent by the foreign Court which issued it to the Minister responsible for foreign affairs of that foreign country for transmission to the Tanzanian Embassy/ High Commission in that country or neighboring country.

Our Ambassador/High Commissioner will transmit the order to our Minister for Foreign Affairs who will then send it to a Court in Tanzania for registration. Where the foreign maintenance order was issued by a superior Court of the foreign country, the Minister will send it to the High Court, main registry or district registry serving the area where the judgment debtor resides or works for registration.

But if the order was issued by a lower Court of foreign jurisdiction, the Minister will send the order to the Resident Magistrate’s Court having jurisdiction within the area where the judgment debtor resides or works through High Court Registrar.

Once the maintenance order from a foreign Court is registered by a local Court in Tanzania, it becomes an order of the local Court and can be executed like an order of the local Court against the former husband.

Similarly, where a spouse obtains a maintenance order from Tanzanian Court and he or she wants to execute the order against a spouse living or working overseas, the same diplomatic channel is used to transmit the decree or order to the Court of a foreign country for execution.

Reckoning of time for instituting employment disputeI have an employment contract for an unspecified time.

My employment contract requires my employer to give me three months’ notice if he wants to terminate my employment. I received termination notice from my employer last week. I would like to know when the limitation period will start running against me. Will it start after the expiration of the three months’ notice or from the day I was served with the notice?

YF, Dar

According to rule 10(1) of the Labour Institutions (Mediation and Arbitration) Rules, 2007 an employee who believes to have been unfairly terminated has the right to refer his complaint to the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration within thirty days from the date of date of termination or the date the employer made a final decision or uphold the decision to terminate.

So the time starts running against an employee claiming to have been unfairly terminated from the date he/she ceases to be employee and not the date he/she was served with a termination notice.

If the termination notice is three months’ notice, the time will start running from the date of expiration of the three months because that is the time one will be deemed to have been terminated from employment.

Stealing a lost property

I lost my mobile phone on my way home from a bar. My phone has my picture on the screen. One of my neighbour’s who knows me very well and is able to identify me from my picture on the phone found my phone but instead of bringing the phone to me, he sold it to another person. Can this neighbour who found the phone and sold it to another person be prosecuted for stealing?

GG, Morogoro

Under section 258(5) of the Penal Code [Cap. 16. R.E. 2019] if a person finds a lost property and he/she knows the owner and believes that the owner can be found but instead of giving the lost property to the owner, he/she converts it into his personal use or sells it to another person, that person is deemed to have stolen the property by fraudulent conversion.

There are two ways of stealing a property, one is by fraudulent taking the property of another and the other way is by fraudulent conversion of a property lost whose owner the finder knows and believes to be reachable or fraudulently converting the property entrusted to him for safe keeping or transmission to another person.

A woman’s duty to maintain a former husband

I am married to a salaried woman. I fell ill and became totally paralysed and my wife has deserted me. I am now depending on Samaritans to survive. May I know if the law allows a man to petition for maintenance orders against a woman?

II, Mtwara

Section 115(2) of the Law of Marriage Act gives the Court power to order a woman to pay maintenance cost to her husband or former husband where the man is incapacitated wholly or partially from earning livelihood due to mental or physical injury or ill-health. The Court can even order a woman to maintain the children if the former husband is unable to maintain them.

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Send in your questions by email to: qa@fbattorneys.co.tzor by post to: Q&A with FB Attorneys C/o The Daily News, P. O. Box 9033 DSM, TanzaniaTo receive this column by email, please visit our website to subscribe. You can also read the column online Logon to www.fbattorneys.co.tz and click on Publications.

This column is intended to give you a general overview of the Law. It is not a substitute to the role of your legal advisor. If you have legal issues, you are strongly recommended to contact your attorney.

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