Analysing and comparing the impact of misrepresentation and non-disclosure on the validity of a contract: similarities, differences and remedies.
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This dissertation explores the concepts of non-disclosure and misrepresentation in South African law. The principal focus surrounds the effect non-disclosure as a form of misrepresentation has on the liability of contracting parties. In order to explore this effectively, the study explores the concept of duty of disclosure, and whether such a duty exists in South African law. Instances when a duty to disclose arises are explained, such as positive steps taken to conceal facts, the seller having sole knowledge of the material fact, an omission or misleading language, and a change in circumstances. Similarly to the English law duty of disclosure in relation to information in contracts uberrimae fidei, the similar South African law concept in insurance or agency contracts known as ‘utmost good faith’, is discussed and explored. The study determines whether such a concept should be a mandatory requirement in pre-contractual negotiations. Additionally, this study explores the various avenues of relief that are available to those who have fallen victim to misrepresentation. This results in an analysis of the effectiveness and success of the current traditional methods of claiming and quantifying damages that are adopted by South African legislature and the judiciary. The discussion then explores the proposed alternate method which aims to combine a claim into one of delict and that of contractual liability, or on the other hand institute a claim solely based on contractual liability. Lastly, this study explores the effect the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 has had on contractual agreements, remedies and penalties, and how this ground-breaking legislation has altered the approach previously adopted by the common law and whether it has done enough to protect consumers.