Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Lecture on legal systems

Yesterday I (finally) got a call from my lawyers saying to come in and chat with the head honcho himself. Good news - though as my car was busy having it's windscreen fixed I had to jump on a pikipiki again and arrived looking pretty windswept! Still, no problem there - they're used to me by now. And then began a lecture in legal systems as a prelude to explaining where things currently stand. Apparently there are basically three types of law - common law (made by judges); civil law (codified) and (news to me, this one - any lawyer friends in UK operate this way?) administrative law. Administrative law apparently refers to legal powers retained by the government and civil service to enable government to function. So, I'm told, the decision of an immigration officer is as legally law (if that's possible) as that of a judge. And whilst judges can overturn administrative laws through the whole court system, it's not cheap or easy. So I'm told a wise lawyer will always try and tackle things administratively, which is what has been happening on my behalf up to now. And the good news is that a resolution is in place - I've even seen a letter saying I'm free to come and go and do my work as I please. But the problem comes because when administrative powers are very strong, they're open to a lot of interpretation. And in a place like Tanzania, that leads to a well known problem. The administrators are all over worked with a huge stack of paper in front of them, and somehow you have to get your papers to the top of the pile to get dealt with. So begins the patient widow approach - pester and pester and pester until you get somewhere (or at least until they let you into the office in the first place). And then persuade the official that your papers really should be dealt with. Now it turns out that the lawyers have employed someone in Dar on my behalf to sit in offices and be persuasive and that he has incurred some serious costs over the last four months whilst he's been doing this. Most of these are his time spent on a hard bench, or travelling around offices in Tanzania. Others are less defined. But the state of play is now that if we can pay our legal fees, I'll get that get-out-of-jail-not-exactly-free letter and all will be well. Which is good news. As for the personal fees of the lawyer and his associate who have been managing all this on my behalf, we agreed I'd teach them the common birds of lake Duluti, and that I'd put together a detailed and illustrated checklist of the birds of a large game ranch owned by the lawyer on the edge of Serengeti. Which should be fun! Anyway, it looks as though we have two choices really - to pay rather a lot of money and have everything finished, or to pay a slightly smaller sum of money to cover completely legitimate expenses and then to leave the country...


  1. If you pay up what guarantees do you have? It all sounds very odd.
    Praying for wisdom and Gods provision.

  2. Good news at long last. Hope that's it sorted now.