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CONSUMER TRIBUNAL RULING GOOD FOR CONSUMERS

16 May 2012





CONSUMER TRIBUNAL RULING GOOD FOR CONSUMERS



The decision of the National Consumer Tribunal that compliance notices issued against the City of Johannesburg in relation to its billing practices and alleged failure to perform refuse removal services were defective is actually an important, and ultimately favourable ruling for consumers, too, says Nick Altini, of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. In a report on the Legalbrief Today site, he notes “if the CPA is to reach its massive potential as a consumer protection tool, it is crucial that it is properly enforced. It is better that the commission has received this sort of guidance at an early stage because it will have an opportunity to review its practices and apply remedial measures to other matters. The tribunal noted that the exercise of public power will only be legitimate when it is lawful and this means that conduct of the commissioner must meet all legal and procedural requirements, and not be arbitrary or irrational. Altini added: “The decision draws a clear distinction between four stages in the lifecycle of a consumer complaint – the receipt of a complaint from a consumer; attempts to resolve a complaint informally; an investigation culminating in a report” and, if appropriate, a compliance notice (which is a statutory notice obliging compliance with the CPA. These stages are separate and distinct and it is only following a formal investigation that the commission can reasonably conclude that a supplier has breached the Act and then issue a compliance notice.