Consumer Protection & Regulatory
If you're in the business of selling products in South Africa, then you best be aware of an ever-growing list of legislation that regulates the trade generally, and also trade in specific industries. Frequently, we are required to advise on aspects of regulation that arise under these Acts (and others):
- Competition Act
- Consumer Protection Act
- Counterfeit Goods Act
- Electronic Communications & Transactions Act
- Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies & Stock Remedies Act
- Foodstuffs, Cosmetics & Disinfectants Act
- Liquor Act and Liquor Products Act
- Merchandise Marks Act
- Protection Of Personal Information Act ("POPI")
A particularly important consideration is the labelling and packaging of products. In addition to regulatory aspects that are prescribed in the legislation, there is also often an overlap with trade mark registrations. In yet another related issue, we also advise on aspects of ambush marketing.
In addition to product regulatory issues, the Consumer Protection Act in particular contains a series of provisions relating to product liability, permissible terms & conditions, and permissible marketing techniques. Equally important these days is ensuring compliance with the required standards of private information under POPI.
Non-compliance with the provisions of these many pieces of legislation carry civil and criminal sanction. This is not something that should be taken lightly. To paraphrase this positively: in appropriate circumstances, this legislation may be relied upon to prevent a competitor from competing against you unlawfully. The legislation often provides useful tools to end online infringement of rights.
This is an expansive area of our law – far too broad to cover comprehensively here. We welcome approaches for advice on these matters.