The Consumer Protection Act, No. 68 of 2008 (CPA), aims to create a fair, accessible and sustainable marketplace by prohibiting unfair market and business practices; promoting responsible consumer behaviour; and harmonising the laws governing the protection of consumers. It applies, except in limited instances, to all transactions involved in the supply and promotion of goods or services in South Africa, entered into in the ordinary course of business, for consideration.
The CPA is principally directed at protecting vulnerable consumers. The term “consumer” includes natural and juristic persons provided the juristic person's asset value or annual turnover, at the time of the transaction, does not equal or exceed ZAR2 million. An exception exists in the case of franchises and no-fault liability for harm caused by goods, the provisions relating to which also apply to consumers above the threshold.
The rights entrenched by the CPA include the rights to equality; privacy; disclosure and information; fair and responsible marketing; fair and honest dealing; fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions; and fair value, good quality and safety.
It provides for the imposition of no-fault liability on a producer, importer, distributor and retailer, who will be liable for any harm caused by unsafe goods; failure, defect or hazard in any goods; or inadequate warnings or instructions relating to hazards associated with goods, unless such person or entity can successfully prove one of the statutory defences.
The CPA is enforced by the National Consumer Commission. The National Consumer Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with complaints. Contraventions may, in certain instances, result in a conviction or the imposition of a fine, or both. This does not exclude the possibility of liability for civil damages.
“The term “consumer” includes natural and juristic persons provided the juristic person's asset value or annual turnover, at the time of the transaction, does not equal or exceed ZAR2 million.”
For a comprehensive document outlining the implications of this area of law in South Africa