2011 has been a very eventful year from a legal perspective. The law has changed radically and there are a new set of rules that apply to business and the commercial world. Many people are feeling overwhelmed, so if you are too, don’t feel alone. We highlight some of the most important new laws in this post.
On 31 March 2011, the Consumer Protection Act commenced. This new law altered the relationship between suppliers and consumers in South Africa forever. Some people might say, “but you’ve known about this new law for years and have had much time to prepare”. The problem is that the regulations were only published when the act commenced. So the document that really contains the detail and the meat of the new law was provided very late. Organisations were given very little time to prepare properly for the implementation of the law.
Then on 1 May 2011, not only did the Companies Act commence, but it was amended and its regulations were published at the same time. So, once again we had a new law and organisations had virtually no time to prepare properly for its implementation.
These are watershed dates in our legal history. Agreements before 31 March 2011 are referred to as pre-existing agreements. Companies existing before 01 May 2011 are referred to as pre-existing companies. The laws and regulations that apply before and after these dates are different.
Many people are struggling to come to grips with the radical impact of the new laws on their organisations and business. These are some of the implications:
- Consumer facing documents need to be in plain and understandable language
- Companies need to amend their memorandums of incorporation
- Every CC will need to be converted to a company in the next 10 years or so.
- It is no longer possible to sign a shareholder’s agreement that prevails over the act and memorandum.
- Consumers now have a lot of rights.
When people look back at 2011 in years to come, it will be judged as a watershed year in South African law – a period of radical change. The rules have changed and you need to know what they are.