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defective vehicle

If a further failure is discovered, the supplier must either replace the goods or refund the consumer.

Section 56 (3) of the Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008 reads as follows:

“If a supplier repairs any particular goods or any component of any such goods, and within three months after the repair, the failure, defect or unsafe feature has not been remedied, or a further failure, defect or unsafe feature is discovered, the supplier must: - (a) replace the goods; or (b) refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer for the goods.”

The Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008 (CPA):

What are your rights after a repair is carried out? Section 56(3).

We have been looking at section 56 of the CPA and in our last blog dealt with section 56(2) in detail ie the remedies available to a consumer: Refund, replace or repair.

We now turn our attention to section 56 (3) which deals with your rights after a repair.

Section 56 (3) of the Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008 reads as follows:

 “If a supplier repairs any particular goods or any component of any such goods, and within three months after the repair, the failure, defect or unsafe feature has not been remedied, or a further failure, defect or unsafe feature is discovered, the supplier must: - (a) replace the goods; or (b) refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer for the goods.”

Section 56 (3) therefore deals with failed repairs:

If the consumer elected to have the goods repaired and the “failure, defect or unsafe feature” has not been repaired after a period of three months has elapsed since the repair; or if a further failure is discovered, the supplier must either replace the goods or refund the consumer.

The supplier will have the same obligations where a further failure, defect or unsafe feature is discovered within three months from the first repair. It is not clear whether it is the consumer or the supplier who may choose whether to replace or to refund. It has been argued and I agree that the election must be made by the consumer as this is the case in respect of section 56(2) and there is no necessity to deviate from that principle when interpreting section 56 (3).

 This section also places a time limitation on a supplier’s attempt to repair a defect in goods. In other words, if a consumer demands that a supplier repairs goods in terms of section 56(2) (a) and after three months the repairs have either have not been made or have not been made effectively, the consumer is entitled to exercise another remedy and the supplier will not be able to allege that repairs are still being made in an attempt to stop the consumer from rescinding. This will prevent situations where the consumer is trapped in a cycle of repairs at the insistence of the supplier.

The ‘further failure’ referred to in this section is presumably a recurrence of the initial failure which was being or has been repaired. If it is another failure altogether the consumer will be able to exercise his or her rights in terms of section 56(2) in any event, and section 56(3) would not be necessary. It is also not a “warranty” on the repairs as this is dealt with separately in section 57 of the CPA.

The three-month period is entirely arbitrary and may also work against consumers.

There may be instances where a shorter period may be reasonable depending on the nature of the goods, where the goods are essential making repairs urgent or where it will become apparent much sooner that the supplier is unable to make the necessary repairs. The legislature should rather have adopted the formulation used in article 3(3) of the Consumer Sales Directive which provides that “any repair or replacement shall be completed within a reasonable time and without any significant inconvenience to the consumer, taking into account the nature of the goods and the purpose for which the consumer required the goods.”

This allows for a more flexible approach than imposing a standard time period and would be far more practical The Tribunal has, on at least one occasion, assisted the consumer who was out of time by granting a partial refund in terms of section 54 (substandard service delivery) instead. 

It is clear therefore that one can use various sections of the CPA depending on the facts on a particular matter.

These provisions clearly also apply to defective motor vehicles which are the subject matter pf this series of blogs.

In our next blog, we will look at section 56 (4) as it relates to the sale of goods and especially as it relates to motor vehicles.

As stated previously; the remedies available to a consumer are complex and you should not try to deal with these matters on your own. You need an expert to assist you in deciding on your remedy depending on all the facts.

Please visit our website at www.legaladviceoffice.co.za or send us an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will respond to your legal queries within 48 hours.

About our author:

Hugh Pollard (Legal Consultant), has a BA LLB and 44 years’ experience in the legal field. 22 years as a practicing attorney and conveyancer; and 20 years as a Legal Consultant.

082-0932304 (Hugh’s Cell Number)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.legaladviceoffice.co.za

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