The legal landscape governing sales contracts is intricate, involving both common-law terms and statutory provisions. This article explores the key rights and obligations of buyers and sellers under South African law, specifically focusing on the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and the National Credit Act (NCA). These Acts impose various obligations and grant significant rights to ensure fair and transparent dealings in sale transactions.


Common-law and Statutory Provisions

The law of sale encompasses residual common-law terms and essential statutory provisions. Parties to a contract can exclude or modify these common-law terms unless the contract expressly or implicitly addresses specific contingencies. Statutory provisions, however, may be either mandatory or default. Mandatory provisions cannot be excluded or varied by the parties, while default provisions apply unless the parties agree otherwise.


Buyer’s Statutory Consumer Rights


General Consumer Rights

Both the CPA and the NCA provide buyers with a range of general consumer rights. These rights are protected through obligations imposed on sellers and prohibitions against retaliatory actions when buyers assert their rights. The CPA prohibits sellers from penalising buyers, altering terms detrimentally, or discriminating against them when they exercise their rights. Similarly, the NCA protects buyers from discriminatory actions by sellers when asserting their rights under the Act.


Right to Equal Treatment

The CPA and NCA ensure buyers are protected against unfair discrimination. The CPA prohibits any form of unfair discrimination as contemplated in the Constitution and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA). The NCA extends this protection specifically to the context of credit transactions, ensuring sellers do not discriminate unfairly in evaluating creditworthiness or other credit-related decisions.


Right to Privacy

Both Acts uphold the buyer’s right to privacy. The CPA allows buyers to refuse direct marketing communications and protects their personal information. The NCA mandates the confidentiality of buyer information and restricts its use and disclosure, providing buyers with the right to access and correct their information.


Right to Choose

The CPA promotes the buyer’s right to choose, prohibiting sellers from imposing bundled sales conditions unless they benefit the buyer or provide economic advantages. The NCA, while not explicitly addressing the right to choose, includes provisions that indirectly support consumer choice.


Right to Disclosure and Information in Plain Language

Transparency is a crucial aspect of both Acts. The CPA requires that all notices and documents be provided in plain language, easily understood by the average consumer. Similarly, the NCA mandates that all documents be delivered in a manner chosen by the buyer and that they be comprehensible, ensuring buyers are well-informed about their transactions.


Right to Fair and Honest Dealing

The CPA enshrines the right to fair and honest dealing, prohibiting any unfair, unjust, or unreasonable marketing or transaction practices. It specifically outlaws deceptive, misleading, or unconscionable representations. The NCA supports fair dealing by imposing similar obligations on credit providers.


Right to Be Heard and Obtain Redress

Both Acts provide mechanisms for buyers to seek redress. The CPA establishes a regulatory framework for consumer protection and dispute resolution. The NCA offers similar avenues, including various dispute resolution mechanisms to address grievances outside the formal court system.


Right to Apply for Credit

Under the NCA, every adult and juristic person has the right to apply for credit, although there is no general entitlement to receive it. Sellers can refuse credit based on reasonable commercial grounds, provided their decision is not discriminatory or retaliatory.



The CPA and NCA provide robust frameworks to protect buyers in sales contracts, ensuring fair treatment, privacy, choice, and access to information. These rights are enforced through various obligations on sellers, promoting transparency and fairness in commercial transactions. Understanding these rights and obligations is crucial for both buyers and sellers to navigate the complexities of sale contracts effectively.

Contact an expert at Schoemanlaw for your property law needs.