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KZN Legal Update: Consumer Protection Act

  • South Africa
  • Corporate

12-05-2020

The KwaZulu Natal Consumer Protection Act No. 4, of 2013 (“KZN CPA”) came into force on 1 May 2020. The KZN CPA aims to further the objectives of the Consumer Protection Act No. 68 of 2008 (“CPA”) in protecting consumer rights. The object of the CPA is, inter alia, to:

- establish a legal framework to ensure that consumer markets are fair, accessible, efficient, sustainable and responsible for the overall benefit of consumers;

- promote fair business practices;

- protect consumers from unconscionable, unfair, unreasonable, unjust or otherwise improper trade practices; and

- protect consumers from deceptive, misleading, unfair or fraudulent conduct.

In order to ensure the realization of consumer rights, the KZN CPA provides for the establishment of the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Consumer Protector (“Consumer Protector”) and one or more Consumer Tribunals in the province.

The main objectives of the Consumer Protector include receiving and investigating consumer complaints, facilitating meditation or conciliation disputes arising in terms of the KZN CPA and referring disputes to the relevant Consumer Tribunal.

The Consumer Tribunal, on the other hand, receives, hears and decides on any consumer complaints. It has the power to make findings regarding consumer complaints and award costs against a person found liable to the consumer.

How to Submit a Complaint

The consumer may submit a complaint to the Consumer Protector by completing the Complaint Form which is available on this link and may submit the complaint via email at Consumer.Complaints@kznedtea.gov.za. No fee is payable for lodging a complaint with the office of the Consumer Protector.

Complaints Proceedings

A consumer may submit a complaint to the Consumer Protector, who is thereafter tasked with fully investigating the complaint. Upon completing the investigation, the Consumer Protector may institute proceedings in support of the consumer with the Consumer Tribunal. The consumer will be allowed legal representation during proceedings before the Consumer Tribunal. The Consumer Protector also has locus standi to institute proceedings in support of the consumer in the High Court.

Any arrangement negotiated between the consumer and supplier before the Consumer Protector may be made an order of the High Court. The High Court has the power to set aside an arrangement if it deems it will fail to discontinue or avoid the business practice which gave rise to the consumer complaint.

Direct referrals of disputes by consumers to the Consumer Tribunal is allowed in limited circumstances permitted by the KZN CPA.

Further information can be found at the website of the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Consumer Protector.

 

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