Q: How do I know whether the Consumer Protection Act applies to my company?

That would depend on the type of product or service that you are providing. As a general rule the Consumer Protection Act will apply to all goods and services provided in South Africa. But there are several exceptions to this rule. Here are a couple:

  • Credit agreements: If your agreement with the consumer is covered by the National Credit Act the CPA does not apply to that agreement. It will apply to any goods sold in terms of that agreement. An example of this would be where a car is sold to a consumer, but financed by a bank. The car will have to comply with the CPA’s provisions regarding quality and safety, but the credit agreement itself will not have to comply with the CPA’s provisions on fair and reasonable contract terms. It will ‘just’ have to comply with the National Credit Act.
  • Financial services: Since the CPA came into effect a lot has changed in the financial services industry. The most important for consumer lawyers is the Financial Services General Amendment Act which came into effect in February 2014. It exempts (amongst others) pension funds, insurers, representatives regulated by the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, banks and medical schemes from the CPA. The rationale is that these industries are already regulated and have to comply with ‘regulations’ such as Treating Customers Fairly.

If you want to read more about the application of the CPA see Chapter 2 of Consumer Law Unlocked.

Consumer Law Unlocked web

Consumer Law Unlocked by Elizabeth de Stadler provides a comprehensive overview of consumer law – not just the Act – in a way that follows the typical chain of transactions. No business or professional advisor should be without it.

Consumer Law Unlocked is available to purchase here

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