Sources of Law
Tanzania's legal system is based on the English Common Law system. It derived this system from its British colonial legacy, as it does the system of government, which is based to a large degree on the Westminster parliamentary model.
Unlike the unwritten British constitutional system, the first source of law for the United Republic of Tanzania is the 1977 Constitution. The constitutional history of Tanganyika traces its background from the 1961 Independence Constitution, which was adopted at the time of independence. In 1962 Tanganyika adopted the Republican Constitution, which operated from 1962 up to 1965. These two were based on the traditional Lancaster style constitutions negotiated at independence by the British upon handover of state power to newly independent states. In 1965 Tanganyika adopted an Interim Constitution while the country awaited a new constitution to be drafted, after it abolished the multi party political system and adopted a one party state system. The process lingered longer than it was meant to and thus the constitution lasted from 1965 up to 1977 when a new constitution was adopted and it has remained applicable to date, with fourteen subsequent amendments.
The Constitution provides for a bill of rights, notwithstanding the fact that it also makes provision for a number of claw-back clauses. In other words the enjoyment of certain rights and freedoms under the constitution is not absolute, but it is subject to legal regulation.
The Bill of Rights is found in part three of the first Chapter of the Constitution and the fundamental rights and freedom are stipulated in article 12 to 24, article 25 to 28 imposes duties on every individual to duties and obligations to respect the rights of others and society. Article 29 establishes the obligation of society to every individual.
Article 30 of the Constitution limits the application of these rights subject to law and the under the due process of law, as the case may be.
The Constitution allows any person to challenge any law or act/omission, which contravenes his or her right, or the Constitution.
The second source of law is the Statutes or Acts of Parliament. The Laws Revisions Act of 1994 Chapter Four of the laws of Tanzania [R.E. 2002,] established that all legislations previously known as Ordinances, i.e. those which were enacted by the pre independence colonial administration, as Orders in Council, can now be legally recognized as Acts. These principal legislations, and subsidiary legislations thereto, are published in the Government Gazette and printed by the Tanzania Government Printers.
The third source is case law. These are cases from the High Court and Court of Appeal which are either reported or unreported and are be used as precedents, and bind lower courts thereto.
Reported Tanzanian cases are found in the Tanzania Law Reports, High Court Digests and East Africa Law Reports.
The fourth source is Received Laws established under Section 2.3 of The Judicature and Application Laws Act, Chapter 358 of the Laws of Tanzania [R.E. 2002] (JALA) these include: Common Law, and Doctrine of Equity, Statutes of General Application of England, applicable before the 22 of July 1920, which is deemed to be the Reception date for English Law in Tanzania.
Customary and Islamic Law
The fifth source is the Customary and Islamic law, which are established under section 9 of JALA. Whereby customary law is in effect only when it does not conflict with statutory law whilst Islamic law is applicable to Muslims under the Judicature and Applications of Laws Act, empowering courts to apply Islamic law to matters of succession in communities that generally follow Islamic law in matters of personal status and inheritance.
International Law (Treaties and Conventions)
International Laws, that is, Treaties and Conventions, are not self-executing. The Act of Parliament can apply treaties and conventions to which Tanzania is a party in the Courts in Tanzania only after ratification.