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What grounds do I need to cancel a sale?

What process must I follow?

We get enquiries on a regular basis from people who after they have bought an item are unhappy with the purchase.

In these circumstances, one has to distinguish between “buyer’s remorse” and a valid legal ground to cancel a sale.

If there is nothing wrong with the item; you cannot cancel the sale.

If there is something wrong with the item; you may well be able to cancel the sale.

There are two ways to do this.

The first basis for cancellation could be in terms of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008 (CPA).

In order to be able to cancel the sale in terms of the CPA:

  1. You must be a consumer;
  2. The seller must be a supplier; and
  3. The item sold must be damaged or defective or at least not fit for its intended purpose.

You then need to comply with the legal processes set out in the CPA and basically have the choice of a repair, replacement or a refund at the suppliers expense.

Get professional help in this regard is our advice.

The second basis for a valid cancellation of a sale is in terms of the common law.

In this event:

  1. The buyer and seller can be any natural or legal/juristic person.
  2. The item must be materially defective or damaged.
  3. The seller must have been aware or should reasonable have been aware of the damage or defect.

If these 3 elements are present you have a basis for a legal and valid cancellation.

Once again our advice is get professional legal assistance in dealing with the matter.

In both situations; you will need professional legal help and the first step will be an intervention and a letter of demand to place the seller in mora.

Thereafter a number of scenarios are possible including the possibility of mediation or issuing of a summons to get a court order for the seller to comply and to pay your costs.

If you have experienced difficulties with an item purchased eg a motor vehicle or enforcing your legal rights; contact us at The Legal Advice Office at or send an email to one of our email addresses; either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also phone us on 082-0932304 and then speak personally to our senior legal consultant.

Should you wish to comment on this or any other legal topic; just send us an e-mail; and we will respond within 48 hours; as stated above.

Thank you.

The Legal Advice Office Team.


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Legal Advice Office

South Africa

Kandelaar Street, Vermont, Hermanus
Phone: +27 (0) 82 093 2304