Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Department of Trade and Industry has released a green paper on comprehensive consumer protection. The green paper recognises two challenges to effective consumer protection legislation in South Africa namely the need to promote the equitable consumption of goods and services by all consumers as well as ensuring that consumers are properly empowered to enforce their consumer protection rights.
In addition to these two challenges, there is a lack of a strong consumer movement in South Africa. The green paper aims to set out consumer’s rights especially with regards to misleading advertising and the terms of contracts as well as providing a more comprehensive and effective mechanism for the protection of consumers. Interestingly, the green paper does not stop at the relationship between business and consumers but also proposes to deal with the rights of consumers in relation to public services.
What is becoming apparent with the Government’s legislative programme is that it is looking to consolidate the rights of South Africans in legislation, thereby making it easier for South African citizens to become more aware of what their rights are and, hopefully, more empowered.  In this regard the introduction of new consumer protection legislation will also have a positive effect on electronic commerce and communications, particularly in that it will enhance the consumer protection regulations already embodied in Chapter 7 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 and promote further consumer confidence.
This green paper represents an important step forward for the protection of consumers’ rights in South Africa. Further information can be found at:
Neil Dundas (Director)
Warren Weertman (Associate)
Bowman Gilfillan Inc
 Copyright ©  Bowman Gilfillan Inc 2004