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The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) has been effective since 1 April 2011 and has completely changed the consumer legal framework. The goal is to ensure consumer protection and consumer safety and to facilitate an environment that enables a fair and effective resolution of disputes between consumers and suppliers.
This Act involves the regulation of goods and services, and this includes the environmental and health effects that these products may have. It means that the Act does not only protect customers but the environment too!
Firstly, the CPA provides an obligation on firms to give information to its customers in respect of potential or actual environmental or health impacts of goods or services. According to Section 22 of the Act, this information given to customers must be in plain and understandable language. This information, whether its a product description or marketing tool, must be accurate and should not deceive the customer.
Secondly, consumers have the right to safe, good quality goods. These goods must be compliant with any applicable standards set under the Standards Act 1993, or any other public regulation.
Section 58 of the CPA deals with the duty on suppliers to draw certain risks to the consumer’s attention. These include unusual risks, risks that could cause injury or death or risks of which the average, reasonable customer may not be aware. There are also certain packaging requirements for unsafe or hazardous goods. If this is not done, the client may have a claim for damages based on harm caused by such products.
It is also important to note the duty imposed on sellers in respect of the recovery and safe disposal of particular goods which cannot be disposed of with other common waste. It is likely that these products have the potential to harm the environment, for example, toxic substances.
Helen Dagut, the Environmental Associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr law firm, emphasises the importance of environmental business compliance to the CPA. “The promulgation of the CPA, therefore, results in an additional layer of obligations in respect of goods or services with potential or actual hazards or risks to consumers and the environment being imposed.
These are required to be complied with in addition to other obligations for environmental protection prescribed under environmental laws. Consumers may enforce their rights, and have begun to do so, where producers and suppliers are failing to do so.”
It is why it is pertinent for firms to be aware of their legal obligations in terms of the CPA and thus ensure the fair treatment of their customers.
All companies have a legal obligation to comply with existing health, safety and environmental legislation. Ensure and manage compliance with legislation effectively with IQ Dome.