In this thesis I examine the challenges posed by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) developments on the law and practice of admissibility of documentary evidence by Tanzanian courts. Particular focus is put on the issues of admissibility of computer printouts in courts. The main argument advanced in this thesis is that the Tanzania Evidence Act, 1967(the TEA), being developed without reference to digital technologies, is inadequate to govern the admissibility of computer printouts with sensible results.
The methodology of data collection deployed in this thesis is predominantly documentary review. Throughout, I have made substantial reference to the landmark case in Trust Bank Tanzania Ltd versus Le-Marsh Enterprises Ltd and Others to analyze the legal issues emerging from dealing with computer printouts in the courtroom when their admissibility is at issue. This case is the only available decision in Tanzania to deal with admissibility of computer printouts.
In fulfilling the above mission, this thesis is organized in five Chapters. Chapter One sets out the aims of the thesis, background information to the problem of admissibility of computer printouts in courts, and literature review of previous works on the subject. The notion of electronic document is treated in Chapter Two. Chapter Three specifically focuses on bankers’ books as a result of the landmark case cited above. Chapter Four briefly reviews the evidentiary rules of admissibility of documentary evidence: the best evidence rule, the rule against hearsay and authentication at common law and under the TEA, 1967. It also deals with an interpretative approach of Tanzanian courts in admitting computer printouts in the form of bankers’ books. Chapter Five comprises concluding remarks and recommendations.