The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) addresses the consumer’s right to be heard and to obtain redress. Without the ability to enforce the rights as protected by the CPA, the CPA would be all “bark and no bite”. The various methods consumers may use to enforce their rights are listed in section 69.
The various methods consumers may seek to enforce their rights in terms of the CPA are listed in sections 69, 70 and 71. Any disputes with a supplier should either be referred –
The CPA does not restrict a consumer to suing suppliers in court, which could be both costly and lengthy. The CPA does not stipulate which of these avenues you should approach first, but it is advisable to try resolving the matter with the supplier first. A consumer may then choose the category of remedies and recourse in terms of the CPA, depending on the nature of the complaint.
You can complain directly to the National Consumer Tribunal (www.thenct.org.za), which has been established in terms of the National Credit Act. The tribunal has power to conduct hearings, make findings and impose administrative fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual turnover in the previous financial year, or R1 million. No legal representation is necessary to lodge a complaint.
There are a number of industry specific ombudsman that can address complaints. The decision made by the ombudsman is binding. If the ombudsman cannot solve the matter or you are not happy with the decision, you can approach either the National Consumer Tribunal or, if all your other options have been exhausted, a court that has jurisdiction over the matter.
This refers to a person or entity that provides a conciliation, mediation or arbitration service, such as the Arbitration Foundation of South Africa (www.arbitration.co.za). If the order is granted, then it may be submitted to the Tribunal for it to be made a consent order.
Consumer affairs courts are established by provincial legislation and are run by provincial departments of economic development. Each province in the country has consumer affairs courts. For more information, please go to www.ecodev.gpg.gov.za
011 468 1579
Deal-making and Advisory
Training and Development