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Consumer Commission to Set Up Registry to Block Unsolicited Marketing

March 12, 2011

National Consumer Commission

The national consumer commission has published a request for expression of interest in respect of the establishment of a registry in the Government Gazette.

The registry is required in terms of section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act.

The registry is where any person may register a pre-emptive block in order to restrict unsolicited direct marketing.

Written proposals are invited until 23 March 2011.

According to the notice, the commission wants to appoint a service provider to run an opt-out register.

The registry must be accessible to all consumers throughout South Africa. It must be able to “receive, compile and utilise information relating to direct marketing”.

The notice sets down the information to be contained in the expression of interest.

Interested parties are expected to answer a number of questions:

• How to give effect to section 11 read with regulation 3 of the act;
• What skills are needed to develop and maintain the register;
• Cost implications of the project; and
• Potential risks related to the register-how to mitigate.

The commission has also published draft guidelines in the Gazette for the development of industry codes of conduct for accreditation under the act.

Written comment is invited until 30 March 2011.

Industry groups are expected to draft their industry codes for submission to the commission. The minister of trade and industry is to accredit the codes.

Industry groups are encouraged to develop plans to produce, distribute, promote and evaluate their codes of conduct.

According to the act, codes are intended to:

• Regulate the interaction between or among persons conducting business within an industry; and
• Regulating the interaction, or providing for alternative dispute resolution between a business and consumers.

The commission holds the view that codes are more effective if they:

• Enjoy widespread support within industry;
• Consist of representatives of key stakeholders such as consumers, consumer associations, government and other groups; and
• Have an effective system to handle complaints.

Codes of conduct have to be consistent with the act and all other relevant regulations.

They are expected to promote fair and equitable business practices in an industry and encourage fairness and open communication between businesses and consumers in the interests of avoiding disputes.

An alternative dispute resolution mechanism is also to be provided in a code.