Motor Vehicles: Defective or Damaged and The Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008 (CPA): The Consumers rights to safe, good quality goods. Section 55: Section 55(1) & (2).

 

We get numerous enquiries each week about damaged and or defective motor vehicles, bought by clients, and the rights of consumers in this regard and when this happens.

One of the most important aspects for the protection of the Consumer introduced as legislation for the first time by the CPA in April 2011 is the Consumers right to safe, good quality goods as envisaged in section 55 of the CPA.

This section of the CPA protects all consumers and it is now law that all consumers are entitled as of law to safe, good quality goods when they purchase any item from a supplier. This is especially important for high priced moveable goods such as motor cars and high end household furniture.

However; section 55 (1) of the CPA strangely starts with an exclusion.

It states (section 55(1) :

“This section does not apply to goods bought at an auction, as contemplated in section 45.”

This is very blunt and to the point.

Section 55 in its entirety does NOT apply to any goods bought at an auction. Goods bought on auction and motor vehicles as well are not covered by the CPA and you only then have a remedy in terms of the common law.

The reason is not clear and no explanation is offered in the CPA; but presumably one of the reasons for excluding goods bought at an auction in this section of the CPA is that they are sold on behalf of the owner, and are often goods sold without reserve, and may well in most cases be older goods that are many years old, and may well have a long history of previous ownership.

The other reason is that the Section 45 of the CPA deals with “auctions” specifically as per its heading  and has its own special rules and provisions regarding the sale of goods by auction which also therefore fall within the ambit of section 45 and outside the provisions of section 55.

Therefore auctions ARE covered by the CPA in section 45; but the provisions of section 55 do NOT apply to auction sales or sales in execution.

If you buy a vehicle or any other item at an auction; the provisions of section 55 do NOT apply but those of section 45 do.

We will deal with auctions and section 45 in another blog at another time.

Section 55 continues in Section 55 (2)

Section 55(2):

“Except to the extend contemplated in subsection (6) (which deals with some exceptions); EVERY consumer has a right to receive goods that:-

  • Are reasonably suitable for the purpose for which they are generally intended;
  • Are of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects;
  • Will be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time, having regard to the use to which they would normally be put and to all the surrounding circumstances of their supply; and
  • Comply with any applicable standards set out under the Standards Act, 1993 (Act No 29 of 19930, or any other public regulation.”

This is a very powerful statement.

It should be read literally and carefully.

We will apply it to an example of the purchase of a motor vehicle; that is any motor vehicle new or used.

If you buy a vehicle from a supplier; you, as a consumer have the RIGHT to receive that VEHICLE in a condition that is firstly “reasonably suitable for the purpose it is generally intended” ie to drive it as one would drive a similar vehicle, under normal conditions, and bearing in mind the particular facts of each case.

Secondly; it MUST be “of good quality, in good working order and FREE of any defects. “ This MUST be the case for the supplier to comply with this subsection.

Thirdly; it MUST be “useable and durable for a reasonable period of time” after you buy it. Once again, under normal conditions; and bearing in mind the particular facts of each case.

This is a powerful RIGHT in the favour of the consumer for the purchase of any item from a supplier.

It must be emphasised however that despite the strong wording of this subsection of the CPA; the factual and especially the legal interpretation of your own position vis a vis a supplier should always be referred to experts for both advice and also to provide the necessary expert legal services that you require; especially when you are dealing with a large sum of money.

You would therefore be strongly advised to contact us. at The Legal Advice Office, to advise you on these queries or any intervention process you want to initiate; and not to simply attempt to do so on your own; as you would not normally have the necessary legal or practical experience; or expert knowledge to do so.

Once again; we must stress that it is always advisable for you as a consumer to seek proper, professional legal advice and legal services when dealing with complex factual and legal issues as we reiterate once again that the CPA and its contents can sometimes can be confusing and complicated, especially in its correct interpretation; and needs a trained legal mind to interpret it correctly and as accurately as possible in any given circumstances.

If you have experienced difficulties with the purchasing of any goods from a supplier recently or wish to query their quality or compliance with the CPA; contact The Legal Advice Office at www.legaladviceoffice.co.za or write to one of our email addresses; either info@legaladviceoffice.co.za or info@thelegaladviceoffice.co.za