Class actions : a proposed procedure in terms of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008.
Due to length and time constraints, this dissertation will briefly examine and provide an overview of the current method that courts have adopted in bringing a class action in Southern Africa and internationally. Specific focus will be on the Unites States of America, Australia and the Canadian province of Ontario. Challenges of bringing a class action will also be discussed, with a view of ascertaining the most appropriate or well-suited method of bringing a class action under the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008. The main issue that will be analysed will be the certification process. The key question to be answered is which approach or procedure, in dealing with the certification requirements under various jurisdictions, should South Africa adopt or incorporate into, class action procedure legislation? In chapter one I will introduce the concept of a class action as it is a relatively new concept found in South African consumer legislation. Different definitions of a class action will be discussed in context of particular statutes. I will define and highlight the purposes of a class action in South Africa and show why there is firstly, a need for such a procedure and secondly why there is a need for such procedure to be codified into legislation. In chapter two I will discuss certain important aspects of class actions. The purpose of this is to identify the main features of a class action. Ultimately, the purpose will be to discuss whether or not these features should be included in South African class actions. Chapter three will commence with the comparative perspective portion of this paper. The legislation adopted by the United States, will be discussed in chapter three followed by a discussion of the Ontario legislation in chapter four and the Australian legislation in chapter 5. The approaches that these jurisdictions have taken in respect of a class action procedure serve as a basis upon which a class action procedure for South Africa will be recommended. Chapter six will provide conclusions that have been drawn through analysis of the foreign jurisdictions’ class action procedures which will reflect the best and worst elements of a class action procedure. This is significant in determining what type of class action procedure would be best suited to South Africa. Chapter seven will highlight the current South African approach to class actions through an examination of case law and a Report by the South African Law Commission. This chapter will also analyse the short-comings in the South African approach through a critique of case law. In chapter eight of this paper I will propose an approach that South Africa should adopt with regard to a class action procedure that is best suited to South Africa’s social climate. Finally, I will conclude with a summation of the arguments presented in this paper in chapter nine.