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This post is in response to the post titled “The First Year of Tanzania’s 2020 Arbitration Act” published on the Kluwer Arbitration Blog on 21 April 2021.

In the above-mentioned post, Katarina Jurisic and Michael Wietzorek analysed the provisions of Tanzania’s Arbitration Act 2020 (‘the Act’) and the effect that the Act would have on the jurisdiction. The well-written article provides a deep analysis of the Act, to which we generally prescribe. However, we disagree with certain views of the authors and, in this post, we provide our reactions to some of them, in particular the following statement:

“In addition to this difference, Section 13(3) of the 2020 Arbitration Act appears to be at odds with Section 12(1) of the 2020 Arbitration Act…”

This post therefore presents further opinions in reaction to that statement.



In our opinion, while conceding that provisions of the Act are open to interpretation, Section 12(1) and Section 13(3) do not seem to be at odds with each other.

Under Section 6 of the repealed Arbitration Act, any application to stay court proceedings pending arbitration would have to be filed before the Defendant files a written statement of defence (‘WSD) or takes any other steps in the proceedings. If the Defendant were to take steps in the proceedings, such as submitting arguments or defenses, it would amount to foregoing his right to submit the dispute to arbitration. The court would first determine the application for stay before making a decision as to whether the dispute should be referred to arbitration or a WSD should be filed by the Defendant.

Section 6 of the repealed Arbitration Act which provided as follows:

Where a party to a submission to which this Part applies, or a person claiming under him, commences  legal proceedings against any other party to the submission or any person claiming under him in respect of any matter agreed to be referred, a party to the legal proceedings may, at any time after appearance and before filing a written statement or taking any other steps in the proceedings apply to the court to stay the proceedings”. (our emphasis)

Currently, under Section 13(3) of the Act, a party cannot make an application for stay of legal proceedings pending arbitration unless he has first taken appropriate procedural steps to acknowledge the legal proceedings against him, or has taken steps in those proceedings to answer the substantive claim. This includes filing a WSD in response to the claim.

Meanwhile, Section 12(1) of the Act states:

A court, before which an action is brought in a matter which is the subject of an arbitration agreement shall, where a party to the arbitration agreement or any person claiming through or under him, so applies not later than the date of submitting his first statement of claim on the substance of the dispute, and notwithstanding any judgment, decree or order of the superior court, refer the parties to arbitration unless it finds that prima facie no valid arbitration agreement exists.” (our emphasis)

Contrary to the inference made in the post by Jurisic and Wietzorek, this provision simply means that a WSD should be filed first before making an application to stay legal proceedings. Further, such application should be filed within the statutory deadline of filing a defence, which is within 21 days from the date of service of summons as per Order VIII Rule (1) of the Civil Procedure Code R.E. 2019.

In our view, there is no confusion created by the inclusion of both Sections 12(1) and 13(3) in the Act. Whereas Section 13(3) imposes conditions for applying for stay of proceedings pending arbitration, Section 12(1) imposes a time limit within which such application can be made.


The Spirit behind these Provisions of the Act. . .

Finish here on the Kluwer Arbitration Blog


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