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Trade and Industry Sets Down Rules for Consumer Commission

June 8, 2011

Department of Trade and Industry

The trade and industry department has published rules regulating how the national consumer commission is to function in the Government Gazette.

The rules are published in terms of the Consumer Protection Act of 2008.

The commission was launched in March 2011. It opened its doors on 1 April.

At the time, the trade and industry minister, Rob Davies, declared that the empowerment of consumers will be a catalyst to businesses to improve their product and service choice.

The act is seen by government as strengthening the protection offered to consumers.

The rules set down the opening times for offices of the commission. They also confirm the postal address of the commission’s office in Pretoria.

According to the notice, the commission may also accept documents for filing at any time in exceptional circumstances. In such circumstances, all interested parties must be notified of this development.

Prescribed time limits for various actions can be circumvented in situations where a viable reason for the delay is provided.

The rules focus on:

• Delivery of documents
• Issuing documents
• Filing documents
• Fees
• Form of orders, notices and applications
• Form of orders and notices of referral
• Form of annual report

The rules also indicate which types of information are to be restricted.

They emphasise, however, that in the case of a conflict between the rules and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the act will prevail.

Restricted information includes:

• Confidential information
• Request for anonymity on the part of information providers
• Internal communication between commission officials
• Report prepared by commission
• Discussions designed to formulate a policy

The rules lay down how access to information is to transpire.

Access to commission records will be open to all unless the information in question has been restricted.

They also contain detail on complaint procedures and exemptions.

Complaints may be withdrawn if they have not yet been handed to the tribunal for consideration.