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Article by our listed attorney
Fawzia Khan

The rules of the game have changed as the Consumer Protection Act drastically alters
the way we do business. As from 1 April 2011, South African consumers have their
rights clearly defined and are afforded greater protection than ever before. The role
players in the consumer industry including the suppliers, producers, distributors must
now face a completely different consumer law landscape or face the severe punitive
consequences. The consumer is now protected against exploitation and harm. For a
full copy of the Act, visit my website at:

Direct marketing, the supply of goods and services including the entire food supply
chain, warranties, competitions or promotional shows, quality of products,
advertising, labeling, etc, all come under the microscope as the rules of engagement
with the consumer are set out. The days of being the target of those pesky telesales
marketers are now over. On the issue of labeling for instance, any product made in
SA but which uses imported materials must say so in the label. The language used
must be easy to read and understand. Consumers can, subject to certain conditions,
claim a full refund of goods if goods were delivered as result of direct marketing or
consumer didn’t have the opportunity to examine the goods before delivery.

You can now also under certain conditions cancel any booking or reservation or
order for goods or services. However the supplier may be allowed to impose a
reasonable charge for cancellation. The Act also looks at the area of product liability. 
In recent developments the concept of strict liability has also been enforced.

Where previously one needed to prove negligence before you could claim of damages
if you purchased a defective product ( which was difficult), now the Act allows the
consumer to claim damages for any death, injury, loss, damage to property and
economic loss for any damaged or defective product.