1.   Short title and commencement.

   2.   Application.

   3.   Act to bind Republic.


   4.   Definitions applicable to written laws.

   5.   Application of definitions.

   6.   Laws always speaking.

   7.   Parts of speech and grammatical forms.

   8.   Gender and number.

   9.   Reference in written law to Minister.

   10.   References by number to be inclusive.

   11.   Construction of internal references to section, etc.

   12.   Reference to written law as amended.

   13.   Disjunctive construction of "or".


   14.   Date of commencement of Acts.

   15.   Time of commencement of written laws.

   16.   Effective date of commencement provision where notice of commencement required.

   17.   Construction of power to fix date of commencement.

   18.   Evidence of date of assent.

   19.   Exercise of powers before commencement.

   20.   Citation of written laws.

   21.   References in written law to day of commencement.


   22.   Acts to be public Acts.

   23.   Sections to be substantive enactments.

   24.   Act may be altered or repealed in same session.

   25.   Preambles and Schedules.

   26.   Headings, marginal notes, footnotes and rectification of errors.


   27.   Construction of amending Act with amended Act.

   28.   Repeal of written law as amended.

   29.   Repeal of repeal.

   30.   Repeal and substitution.

   31.   Effect of substituting provisions.

   32.   General savings on repeal.

   33.   Effect of repeal of Act on subsidiary legislation.

   34.   Effect of expiry of written law.


   35.   President may make subsidiary legislation.

   36.   General provisions regarding power to make subsidiary legislation.

   37.   Publication and commencement of subsidiary legislation.

   38.   Laying regulations before National Assembly and disallowance.

   39.   Construction of subsidiary legislation.

   40.   Citation of subsidiary legislation.

   41.   Reference to written law to include subsidiary legislation.

   42.   Acts under subsidiary legislation deemed done under Act.

   43.   Fees and charges.


   44.   Time for exercise of power or performance of duty.

   45.   Reference to holder of office includes successors.

   46.   Construction of enabling words.

   47.   Power to issue licence, etc., discretionary.

   48.   Power to appoint includes power to suspend, dismiss, etc.

   49.   Appointment by name or officer, etc., and appointment of Chairman, etc., of Board, etc.

   50.   Power of majority, quorum, etc.

   51.   Exercise of power may be corrected.

   52.   Effect of appointment when retiring officer on leave.

   53.   "May" imports discretion, "shall" is imperative.

   54.   Power of board, etc., not affected by vacancy or certain defects.

   55.   Exercise of certain powers by delegate.

   56.   Reference to an area by designation.

   57.   Construction of power to delegate.

   58.   Who shall affix the common seal of a body corporate.

   59.   Rights of the Government.


   60.   Computation of time.

   61.   Reckoning of months.

   62.   Provisions where no time fixed.

   63.   Construction of power to extend time.

   64.   Deviations from forms.

   65.   Measurement of distance.


   66.   Ex officio proceeding not to abate on death.

   67.   Rules of court.

   68.   Imposition of penalty not a bar to civil action.

   69.   Recovery of fines and penalties.

   70.   Double jeopardy.

   71.   Application of penal laws to bodies corporate.

   72.   Provisions as to offences under two or more Acts.

   73.   Amendment of penalty.

   74.   Prescription of maximum, minimum, daily and cumulative penalties.

   75.   Provision as to attempts.

   76.   Disposal of forfeits.

   77.   Liability of employer or principal.

   78.   Evidence of fiat, sanction or consent of public officer.

   79.   Exercise of D.P.P's functions in his absence.

   80.   Statement of penalty at end of provision.

   81.   Continuing offences.


   82.   Service of documents by post.

   83.   Service of documents generally.

   84.   Language of the laws of Tanzania.

   85.   [Repeal of Act No. 30 of 1972.]



An Act to consolidate the law relating to the construction, application, interpretation and operation of written law and to provide for related matters.


Acts Nos.
4 of 1996
17 of 1996


1.   Short title and commencement

   (1) This Act may be cited as the Interpretation of Laws Act.

   (2) This Act shall come into operation on the date of commencement of the Revised Edition 2002.

   (3) In this section, "the Revised Edition 2002" means the Laws of Tanzania as revised and published.

2.   Application

   (1) This Act shall apply to Mainland Tanzania as well as to Tanzania Zanzibar in relation to all laws which apply throughout the United Republic.

   (2) The provisions of this Act shall apply to, and in relation to, every written law, and every public document whether the law or public document was enacted, passed, made or issued before or after the commencement of this Act, unless in relation to a particular written law or document–

   (a)   express provision to the contrary is made in an Act;

   (b)   in the case of an Act, the intent and object of the Act or something in the subject or context of the Act is inconsistent with such application; or

   (c)   in the case of subsidiary legislation, the intent and object of the Act under which that subsidiary legislation is made is inconsistent with such application.

   (3) The provisions of this Act shall apply to this Act as they apply to an Act passed after this Act commences.

   (4) In sections 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 33, 36(6), 43, 46, or 62 a reference to any Act, written law, enactment or subsidiary legislation passed or made after the commencement of this Act shall be construed so as not to include any enactment which continues or directly amends, but does not repeal entirely, the text of an existing written law.

3.   Act to bind the Republic

   This Act binds the United Republic.


4.   Definitions applicable to written laws

   In this Act and every other written law–

   "abet" with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, has the same meaning as in the Penal Code *;

   "act" when used with reference to an offence or civil wrong, includes an omission and extends to a series of acts or omissions or a series of acts and omissions;

   "Act" when used with reference to legislation means any Act, Decree or Ordinance passed by the Parliament of the United Republic or, as the case may be, the House of Representatives of Zanzibar, or by any Council previously having authority or power to pass laws in Tanzania or, as the case may be, Zanzibar, such Act, Decree or Ordinance having been assented to by or on behalf of the President or other proper legislative authority but does not include an Act of the Community;

   "administrative officer" means an administrative officer of any grade;

   "advocate" means a person entitled to practise as an advocate in the High Court or courts subordinate under the provisions of the law for the time being applicable to advocates;

   "affidavit" in the case of persons allowed by law to affirm or to declare instead of swearing, includes affirmation and declaration;

   "amend" means replace, substitute, in whole or in part, add to or vary, and the doing of any two or more of such things simultaneously or by the same written law;

   "applied law" means any Indian Act or an Act of the United Kingdom including an Order-in-Council which for the time being extends and applies to Tanzania;

   "by-law" means a by-law made under the Act in which the term is used;

   "calendar month" means the period beginning on the first day of a month and expiring on the last day of that month;

   "calendar year" means the period commencing on 1st day of January in a year and expiring on the 31st day of December in that year;

   "chapter", "part", "section" and "Schedule" denote respectively a chapter, part, and section of and Schedule to the Act in which the word occurs, and "subsection" denotes a subsection of the section in which the word occurs;

   "Chief Secretary" means the person who is appointed Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President;

   "civil magistrate" means a resident magistrate, and includes any other person appointed a civil magistrate under the Magistrates' Courts Act;

   "coin" means any coin of any metal, whether precious, semi-precious or non-precious, which is for the time being legal currency in the United Republic;

   "commencement" when used with reference to an enactment, means the time at which the enactment comes or came into operation;

   "common law" means the common law of England;

   "the Commonwealth" means collectively the members of the Commonwealth and any dependency of a member of the Commonwealth; and "member of the Commonwealth" or "Commonwealth country" means the United Republic and any country specified in the Schedule to this Act;

   "the Community" means the East African Community established by the Treaty;

   "the Consolidated Fund" means the Consolidated Fund of the United Republic;

   "the Constitution" means the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977, (entitled in Kiswahili "Katiba ya Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania ya Mwaka, 1977") enacted by the Constituent Assembly of the United Republic;

   "contravene" in relation to any requirement or condition prescribed in a written law or in any grant, permit, lease, licence, or other authority under a written law, includes a failure to comply with that requirement or condition;

   "court" means any court in the United Republic, of competent jurisdiction;

   "Court of Appeal" means the court to which appeals lie under Part II of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act;

   "Crown Agents" means the persons for the time being acting as Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations or any of them;

   "Customary Law" means any rule or body of rules whereby rights and duties are acquired or imposed, established by usage in any African Community in Tanzania and accepted by such community in general as having the force of law, including any declaration or modification of customary law made or deemed to have been made under section 12 of the Judicature and Application of Laws Ordinance *, and references to "native law" or to "native law and custom" shall be similarly construed;

   "definition" means the interpretation given by any written law to a word or expression;

   "Deputy Minister" means a Deputy Minister appointed under section 55 of the Constitution;

   "District" means any part of the United Republic proclaimed or deemed to be or to have been proclaimed under section 2 (2) of the Constitution to be a district;

   "district magistrate" includes a resident magistrate;

   "document" includes any publication and any matter written, expressed, or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures, or marks, or by more than one of those means, which is intended to be used or may be used for the purpose of recording that matter;

   "East African Authority" means the East African Authority established by the Treaty;

   "enactment" means a written law or any portion of a written law;

   "estate", in relation to land, includes any legal or equitable estate or interest, easement, right, title, claim, demand, charge, lien, or encumbrance in, over, to, or in respect of the land;

   "financial year" means the period of 12 months ending on 30 June;

   "Foreign Service Officer" means an officer holding or acting in an appointment in the Foreign Service of the United Republic;

   "function" includes powers, duties, responsibilities, authorities, and jurisdictions;

   "Gazette" or "Government Gazette" means the Gazette printed and published by the Government Printer by order of the Government of the United Republic and includes supplements and any Extraordinary Gazette so published;

   "General Notice" means any announcement not of a legislative character made in the Gazette by or with the authority of the President or a Minister;

   "Government" means the Government of the United Republic;

   "Government analyst" includes any assistant or other analyst employed by the Government;

   "Government Notice" means any subsidiary legislation made by the President, a Minister or other public officer or authority pursuant to a power conferred by any Act;

   "Government Printer" means the Government Printer of the United Republic and any other printer purporting to be the printer authorised to print Acts and other documents of the Government;

   "the High Commission" means the High Commission established by the East African (High Commission) Order-in-Council, 1947 to 1961 and reference in any written law to the High Commission shall be construed–

   (a)   for the period during which the East African Common Services Organisation Agreement (Implementation) Ordinance was in force, as references to the Common Services Organisation;

   (b)   for the period after the repeal of that Ordinance, as references to the Community;

   "the High Court" means the High Court of the United Republic or the High Court of Zanzibar;

   "Imperial Act" means an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom;

   "individual" means a material person;

   "Judge" means a Judge of the High Court, and includes an acting Judge;

   "Justice" means a Justice of the Peace;

   "land" includes buildings and other structures, and covered with water, and any estate, interest, easement servitude or right in or over land;

   "Law Officer" means the Attorney-General and every legally qualified member of the Attorney-General's Chambers of the rank of or above Senior State Attorney or Senior Parliamentary Draftsman;

   "local government authority" means–

   (a)   a village council, a township, a kitongoji, a district council or any other local government authority established under the Local Government (District Authorities) Act *; or

   (b)   an urban ward, a mtaa, a town council, a municipal council or city council established under the Local Government (Urban Authorities) Act *;

   "magistrate" means a resident magistrate, a district magistrate, a primary court magistrate and any other description of magistrate provided for by or under the Magistrates' Courts Act *;

   "marriage" means a marriage contracted in accordance with, or recognised as valid by the Law of Marriage Act *, and the terms "husband", "wife" and "married person" shall be construed accordingly;

   "Minister" has the meaning given in section 9 of this Act and in addition, includes the Vice President, the Prime Minister; and "the Minister" means the Minister responsible for the matter in question and includes the Deputy Minister for the time being performing the functions of that Minister or, if there is no minister responsible for the matter in question, means the President;

   "minor" means a person who has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years and the terms "infant" and "infant child" shall be construed accordingly;

   "month" means a calendar month unless words be added showing a lunar month is intended; where a month is expressed as beginning, or is required to be reckoned as beginning, on a date other than the first day of any month, the month shall be deemed to expire immediately before the commencement of the corresponding date in the next following month, whether the period so encompassed is of a longer or shorter period than thirty days;

   "native" means any member of an African race;

   "oath" and "affidavit", in the case of persons required or allowed to affirm or declare instead of swearing, include affirmation and declaration, and "swear", in the like case, includes "affirm" and "declare";

   "Ordinance" includes any Ordinance or any laws, Proclamations or other Legislative Acts issued, made or done before the date of the Tanganyika Order in Council, 1920, and validated by the said Order in Council, and any subsidiary legislation made and in force under an Ordinance, and (save in the definitions "Act" and "Parliament" in this section) includes an Act of Parliament and subsidiary legislation made under such Act;


   (a)   in an Ordinance, or a public document made or issued before the ninth day of December, 1961, means the Parliament of the United Kingdom and "Imperial Parliament" has the same meaning;

   (b)   in an Act of the Parliament of Tanganyika or of the United Republic, or a public document made or issued after the eighth day of December, 1961, or in an Act of the Constituent Assembly of Tanganyika, means the Parliament of the United Republic (and when used in the expression "Act of Parliament" includes a reference to the Constituent Assembly of Tanganyika);

   "perform" in relation to functions, includes the exercise of a power, responsibility, authority, or jurisdiction;

   "Permanent Secretary" means a person appointed by the President to be a Permanent Secretary, and reference in any Act to Principal Secretary shall be construed as reference to Permanent Secretary, and includes a Deputy Attorney-General;

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