The role of comparative law in consumer protection law: A South African perspective

Authors Jacolien Barnard

ISSN: 1996-2185
Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Mercantile Law, University of Pretoria
Source: South African Mercantile Law Journal, Volume 29 Issue 2, 2017, p. 353 – 389


This article illustrates the role of comparative law as a possible law reform mechanism in consumer protection law from a South African perspective. The South African legislature introduced very comprehensive legislation in the area of consumer protection law in the form of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008. Certain provisions in the Act mimic core European Union (EU) directives on consumer protection. This article aims to establish why elements of a foreign law model were introduced as part of law reform in South African consumer law, how this was done, and whether it could assist in the effective interpretation and enforcement of consumer protection measures. The focus is on a general discussion of unfair commercial practices regulated by the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC. It is argued that comparative law plays a significant role in the effective interpretation and enforcement of consumer protection law in South Africa. However, cognisance must be taken of South Africa’s unique position, as well as its societal and economic needs.