The United Republic of Tanzania


The Tanzanian legal system is based on the English Common Law system. The first source of law is the Constitution of 1977 followed by statutes or acts of parliament; and case law, which are reported or unreported cases from the High Courts and Courts of Appeal and are used as precedents to guide the lower courts. The Court of Appeal of Tanzania, which handles all the appeals from Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, is the highest ranking court in the country, followed by the High Court of Tanzania, which handles all types of civil and criminal cases and commercial matters.

There are four specialized divisions within the High Courts: Labor, Land, Commercial, and Corruption and Economic Crimes. The Labor, Land, and Corruption and Economic Crimes divisions have exclusive jurisdiction over their respective matters, while the Commercial division is without exclusive jurisdiction. District and Resident Magistrate Courts also have original jurisdiction in commercial cases involving monetary amounts up to TZS 50 million ($22,442), and TZS 300 million ($134,650), respectively. The High Court has original jurisdiction for cases exceeding that amount.

Apart from the formal systems of courts, there exist quasi-judicial bodies including the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal, which was established under the Tax Appeals Act, and the Fair Competition Tribunal, which was established under the Fair Competition Act. Notwithstanding the court and quasi-judicial bodies, Tanzania also has alternate dispute resolution procedures in the form of arbitration proceedings.

Judgments originating from countries whose courts are recognized under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (REFJA) are enforceable in Tanzania. To enforce a foreign judgment from a court in a listed country, the judgment holder has to make an application to the High Court of Tanzania to have the judgment registered. Countries currently listed in the REFJA include Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Zambia, Seychelles, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the United Kingdom, and Sri Lanka.

The Government may expropriate property after due process for the purpose of national interest. The Tanzanian Investment Law guarantees:

  • Payment of fair, adequate, and prompt compensation.
  • A right of access to the Court or a right to arbitration for the determination of the investor’s interest or right and the amount of compensation.
  • Any compensation shall be paid promptly and authorization for its repatriation in convertible currency, where applicable, shall be issued.

Tanzania is politically stable and has enjoyed political stability since independence in 1961. It is one of a few African countries with a stable and peaceful socio-political environment. The country remains free of ethnic and religious tensions and the violence that has struck so many developing countries. The country has ushered in political pluralism, increase democratization as part of global political reforms. Specifically, in 1992, the country officially adopted the multiparty system and, in 1995, the first multiparty general elections were held.

These political developments, particularly the pluralistic political environment, have ushered in a new era and heightened the level of democratization-there is more freedom of speech, movement, and increased participation in the decision-making process. The country, has since 1992 held the fifth Multiparty general election in 2015 in a peacefully manner in which more than five political parties participated in the electoral process. Political stability has given Tanzania a peace dividend that continue to lay foundation for the strong economic performance. In October 2015, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli was elected as the fifth President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

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