Access to redress for consumers: A tale of the effect of a notice of non-referral by the National Consumer Commission
Authors M A (Riette) du Plessis
Affiliations: Associate Professor, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand
Source: South African Mercantile Law Journal, Volume 30 Issue 2, 2018, p. 330 – 347
The National Consumer Commission issued a notice of non-referral, whereafter the National Consumer Tribunal, in its judgment, misdirected itself on the applicability and interpretation of the CPA. This was corrected during a second hearing by a different panel of the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s arguments at the first hearing are discussed, with reference to both the CPA and common law. Referrals for assistance under sections 69, 70, 72 and 73, the inability of certain ombuds to enforce their decisions and the restrictions placed on provincial consumer protection authorities and consumer courts by section 84 are discussed. The consequences of the Commission’s decision no longer to investigate individual consumer complaints and its issuing of notices of non-referral may have the effect of matters not being escalated to the Tribunal. Consumers may as a result not be able to proceed with a civil action for damages because they will lack the necessary locus standi to bring such actions, as they may be denied access to the courts if they have not exhausted all other remedies as required by section 69(d) of the CPA.