Know your consumer rights: terms to look out for when contracting with suppliers

Know your consumer rights: terms to look out for when contracting with suppliers

Why is the Consumer Protection Act important? The Consumer Protection Act, Act No. 68 of 2008 ("the CPA") is a landmark Act in South African statutory law as it is directed at the protection of consumer interests. As stated in the CPA itself, the purpose of the CPA is “to promote and advance the social and economic welfare of consumers”. Courts and tribunals are obliged to be mindful of this purpose when adjudicating matters brought in terms of the CPA. Who is protected by the Consumer Protection Act? A “consumer” under the CPA includes natural persons and small business enterprises…
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Life Partners: Beware the “Common Law Marriage” Myth!

Life Partners: Beware the “Common Law Marriage” Myth!

One of the more pervasive myths in South Africa is that, if you live together for long enough as “life partners”, you have some form of legal protection because you are in a “common law marriage”. Not so! Our law has never recognised any such concept, and you could well be left high and dry when your partner dies or leaves you. The problem is that cohabitants have none of the general legal rights and duties to each other that apply to formal marriages and civil unions. The draft Domestic Partnerships Bill, which was published in 2008 and was supposed…
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Road Rage – Sue, and Report It!

Road Rage – Sue, and Report It!

We live in stressful times, and as our roads become busier and the pressures of modern life mount, expect more and more road rage incidents. YouTube clips of drivers brawling, beside themselves with fury, vehicles forced off the road or tail-ended by apoplectic motorists, shouting, swearing, punch-throwing, windscreen smashing, racial insults – they all make for good viewing stats but what if you are one of the unfortunate victims? Firstly, you may well have a civil claim for damages – ask your lawyer about your prospects. Both your actual monetary losses and damages for any assault and humiliation could be…
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What Happens If You Cancel Your Lease Early?

What Happens If You Cancel Your Lease Early?

You sign a two year lease for a nice little apartment (or a large family house if you have a spouse, 3 kids and a dog) but after 6 months your employer transfers you and you have to cancel early. “Fine” says your landlord “but you are breaching your lease and I am holding you liable for the remaining 18 months’ rental”. What are your rights? As is often the case in life, that depends… Check the terms of your lease First things first, generally your most important consideration is this: “What does my lease say about termination?” Most leases…
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Landlord v Tenant: Consider the Tribunal Dispute Resolution Option

Landlord v Tenant: Consider the Tribunal Dispute Resolution Option

We all know how easy it is for misunderstandings and disputes to arise between landlords and tenants, and whilst most can be resolved with a bit of open communication and negotiation, sometimes independent intervention is needed. Enter the Rental Housing Tribunal, which uses the Rental Housing Act to “speedily resolve” landlord/tenant disputes, to balance the rights of both sides and to protect them both from “unfair practices and exploitation”. Note that this applies only to residential housing, not to commercial or industrial leases. What’s the cost and how does it work? It’s free, and to get going you lodge a…
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Facebook Defamation – The Truth is not Enough!

Facebook Defamation – The Truth is not Enough!

Pretend for a moment that you are engaged in a bitter dispute – perhaps it’s a fight over money, a family feud or a messy divorce, a disaffected employee or a vengeful neighbour. You decide to resort to Social Media “to tell the truth” about your nemesis. You feel totally safe doing so – after all, our Constitution protects our rights to free speech, the Internet is a bastion of Freedom of Information, nothing said online is “real”, and anyway who can object to you telling the truth? Wrong! A recent High Court judgment in Garbade v Jan Van Niekerk…
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