Consumer Protection Act

              

National Consumer Protection Institutions

                 

Part A: National and provincial co-operation

83. Co-operative exercise of concurrent jurisdiction

The Minister must consult with the responsible Member of any relevant provincial Executive Council to co-ordinate and harmonise the functions to be performed by the Commission and one or more provincial consumer protection authorities; and when necessary, to facilitate the settlement of any dispute between the Commission and one or more provincial consumer protection authorities, concerning the functions to be performed by them relating to consumer protection. At the direction of the Minister, the Commission must engage with any relevant provincial consumer protection authority in co-operative activities to detect and suppress prohibited conduct or offences in terms of this Act, occurring within the province or across its provincial boundaries. The Commission may request a provincial consumer protection authority to submit any report or information related to the activities of that provincial consumer protection authority to the Commission.

               

84. Provincial consumer protection authorities

A provincial consumer protection authority has jurisdiction within its province to:

  • issue compliance notices in terms of this Act on behalf of the Commission to any person carrying on business exclusively within that province;
  • facilitate the mediation or conciliation of a dispute arising in terms of this Act between or among persons resident, or carrying on business exclusively within that province;
  • refer a dispute contemplated in paragraph (b) to the provincial consumer court within that province, if there is one; and
  • request the Commission to initiate a complaint in respect of any apparent prohibited conduct or offence in terms of this Act arising within that province.

 

Part B: Establishment of National Consumer Commission

85. Establishment of National Consumer Commission

The National Consumer Commission is established as an organ of state within the public administration, but as an institution outside the public service.

The Commission:

  • has jurisdiction throughout the Republic;
  • is a juristic person;
  • must, exercise the functions assigned to it in terms of this Act or any other law, or by the Minister, in the most cost-efficient and effective manner; and in accordance with the values and principles mentioned in section 195 of the Constitution.

 

86. Minister may direct policy and require investigation

The Minister may by notice in the Gazette, issue policy directives to the Commission with respect to the application, administration and enforcement of this Act; and at any time direct the Commission to investigate an alleged contravention of this Act; or any matter or circumstances with respect to the purposes of this Act.

                  

87. Appointment of Commissioner

The Minister must appoint a person with suitable qualifications and experience in economics, law, commerce, industry or public affairs as Commissioner of the Commission, who is responsible for all matters pertaining to the functions of the Commission under this Act; and holds office for an agreed term not exceeding five years. The Commissioner is the accounting authority for the Commission, and as such is responsible for:

  • all income and expenditure of the Commission;
  • all revenue collected by the Commission;
  • all assets, and the discharge of all liabilities of the Commission; and
  • the proper and diligent implementation of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999), with respect to the Commission.

 

The Minister must appoint at least one person, and may appoint other persons with suitable qualifications and experience in economics, law, commerce, industry or public affairs as Deputy Commissioner to assist the Commissioner in carrying out the functions of the Commission. The Minister must designate a Deputy Commissioner to perform the functions of the Commission whenever the Commissioner is unable for any reason to perform the functions of the Commissioner; or the office of the Commissioner is vacant.

                               

88. Appointment of inspectors and investigators

The Commissioner may appoint any suitable employee of the Commission or any other suitable person employed by the State, as an inspector; and must issue each inspector with a certificate in the prescribed form stating that the person has been appointed as an inspector in terms of this Act. When an inspector performs any function of an inspector in terms of this Act, the inspector:

  • must be in possession of a certificate of appointment issued to that inspector in terms of subsection (1);
  • must show that certificate to any person who is affected by the inspector’s actions in terms of this Act; and requests to see the certificate; and
  • has the powers of a peace officer as defined in section 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977), and may exercise the powers conferred on a peace officer by law.

 

The Commissioner may appoint or contract with any suitably qualified person as an investigator to conduct research, audits, inquiries or other investigations on behalf of the Commission.

           

89. Conflicting interests

The Commissioner, and any other employee of the Commission, or person appointed by the Commission to be an inspector or investigator, may not:

  • engage in any activity that may undermine the integrity of the Commission;
  • participate in any investigation, hearing or decision concerning a matter in respect of which that person has a direct financial interest or any similar personal interest;
  • make private use of, or profit from, any confidential information obtained as a result of performing that person’s official functions in the Commission; or
  • divulge any confidential information to any third party, except as required as part of that person’s official functions within the Commission.

 

90. Finances

The Commission is financed from:

  • money appropriated by Parliament;
  • any fees payable to the Commission in terms of this Act;
  • income derived from its investment and deposit of surplus money; and
  • money accruing from any other source.

 

91. Reviews and reports to Minister

At least once every five years, the Minister must conduct an audit review of the exercise of the functions and powers of the Commission.In addition to any other reporting requirement set out in this Act, the Commission must report to the Minister at least once every year on its activities, as required by the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999).

             

Part C: Functions of Commission

92. General provisions concerning Commission functions

The Commission is responsible to carry out the functions and exercise the powers assigned to it by or in terms of this Act or any other national legislation. In carrying out its functions, the Commission may have regard to international developments in the field of consumer protection; or consult any person, organisation or institution with regard to any matter relating to consumer protection. The Minister must prescribe at least two official languages to be used by the Commission in any documents it is required to deliver in terms of this Act.

                

93. Development of codes of practice relating to Act

The Commission may develop, and promote the voluntary use of, codes of practice in respect of:

  • use of plain language in documents;
  • a standardised or uniform means of presenting and communicating the information contemplated in sections 23 to 28;
  • alternative dispute resolution in terms of section 70; or
  • any other matter to better achieve the purposes of this Act.

 

94. Promotion of legislative reform

In order to better achieve the purposes of this Act the Commission must:

  • identify any national or provincial legislation, or other public regulation, that affects the welfare of consumers; and is inconsistent with the purposes of this Act;
  • consult with relevant provincial consumer protection authorities; organs of state within the national sphere of government; and consumer protection groups, alternative dispute resolution agents and suppliers,

Report from time to time to the Minister with recommendations for achieving the progressive transformation and reform of law contemplated in this section.

           

95. Promotion of consumer protection within organs of state

In order to better achieve the purposes of this Act in relation to goods and services supplied to consumers by or through any organs of state, the Commission must consult with relevant provincial consumer protection authorities, organs of state within the national sphere of government, regulatory authorities, consumer protection groups, and ombuds with respect to the delivery of any such goods or services, with the object of identifying any practices that are inconsistent with the purposes and policies of this Act; and developing proposals for reform of any such practices; and report from time to time to the Minister with recommendations for achieving the progressive transformation and reform of practices contemplated in this section. In other words the Commission will also have to look at service delivery. The Commission must monitor the effectiveness of entities in relation to goods and services supplied to consumers through organs of state.

                  

96. Research and public information

The Commission is responsible to increase knowledge of the nature and dynamics of the consumer market, and to promote public awareness of consumer protection matters, by implementing education and information measures to develop public awareness of the provisions of this Act; and providing guidance to the public by:

  • issuing explanatory notices outlining its procedures, or its non-binding opinion on the interpretation of any provision of this Act;
  • applying to a court for a declaratory order on the interpretation or application of any provision of this Act; or
  • publishing any orders and findings of the Tribunal or a court in respect of a breach of the Act.

 

97. Relations with other regulatory authorities

The Commission may liaise with any provincial consumer protection authority or other regulatory authority on matters of common interest and, without limiting the generality of this power, may monitor, require necessary information from, exchange information with, and receive information from, any such authority pertaining to matters of common interest; or a specific complaint or investigation. It may negotiate agreements with any regulatory authority to co-ordinate and harmonise the exercise of jurisdiction over consumer matters within the relevant industry or sector; and to ensure the consistent application of the principles of this Act; The Commission may liaise with any foreign or international authorities having any objects similar to the functions and powers of the Commission.

                       

98. Advice and recommendations to Minister

  • In addition to any other advice or reporting requirements set out in this Part, the Commission is responsible to:
  • advise the Minister on matters relating to consumer protection and on the determination of national norms and standards regarding consumer protection in terms of this Act that should apply generally throughout the Republic;
  • recommend to the Minister changes to bring about uniformity in the legislation in the various provinces in relation to consumer protection in terms of this Act;
  • report annually on market practices and the implications for consumer choice and competition in the consumer market;
  • enquire into and report to the Minister on any matter concerning the purposes of this Act; and
  • advise the Minister in respect of any matter referred to it by the Minister.

Case Law Summaries and Articles

 

Can employees be dismissed for refusing to accept new terms and conditions of employment?

Can an employer dismiss employees because they refuse to agree to a change to their terms and conditions of employment? An initial answer may be, “yes”.

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Escape route: “Resignation with immediate effect”

The latest case in the ‘disciplining employees who have resigned with immediate effect’ saga has brought about more uncertainty as to whether an employee who resigns with immediate effect shortly before a disciplinary hearing can avoid disciplinary action and subsequent dismissal.

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Freedom of expression or incitement to commit an offence? A constitutional challenge

On 4 July 2019, the North Gauteng High Court handed down judgment in the case of The EFF and other v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and other (87638/2017 and 45666/2017) in which the EFF and Julius Malema (the applicants) sought to have s18(2)(b) of the Riotous Assemblies Act, No 17 of 1956 (Riotous Act) declared unconstitutional.

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Consolidated, comprehensive or general final written warnings

Regarding dismissal, according to the Code of Good Practice, “the courts have endorsed the concept of corrective or progressive discipline. This approach regards the purpose of discipline as a means for employees to know and understand what standards are required of them.

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Employment Equity Committee Training

23 August 2019 (Fully Booked)

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

29 August 2019 (Fully Booked)

Tsogo Sun: Century City: Cape Town

30 August 2019

Tsogo Sun: Century City: Cape Town

27 September 2019

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

04 October 2019

Southern Sun: Maharani: Durban

Shop Steward Training

28 August 2019

Emperors Palace Convention Centre

Basic Labour Relations

04 September 2019

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Course

12 September 2019

Southern Sun: Maharani Towers: Durban

The OHS Act and the Responsibilities of Management

13 September 2019

Southern Sun: Maharani Towers: Durban

19 September 2019

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

28 November 2019

Protea Hotel By Marriott Tyger Valley: Cape Town

Managing Day to Day Issues/ Problem Employees Full day workshop

20 September 2019

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

27 September 2019

Tsogo Sun: Century City: Cape Town

AARTO and the Impact on Your Business

03 October 2019

Emperors Palace Convention Centre

Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment Course

18 October 2019

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

21 November 2019

Tsogo Sun: Century City: Stay Easy: Cape Town

Workshop Incident/Accident Investigation Course

25 October 2019

Emperors Palace: Convention Centre

22 November 2019

Tsogo Sun: Century City: Stay Easy: Cape Town

  

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