28 Feb 2013

Corporate & Commercial Law Newsletter February 28th, New Restrictions Relating to Direct Marketing

Practice Area(s): Corporate & Commercial |


Does your business approach individuals in person, by mail or electronic communication to promote or offer your goods or services?

If so, you should be familiar with the restrictions on direct marketing which were introduced in the Consumer Protection Act.  That Act provides that, in order to protect the consumer's right to privacy, a consumer can refuse to accept, require someone to stop or pre-emptively block any communication made for the purpose of direct marketing.  As a business, you are required to be aware of and to comply with those requests.  In addition, you may only approach consumers during prescribed times on specified days.  Even if a consumer accepts your offer which was marketed to him directly, he can change his mind and cancel that contract within 5 business days and you are obliged to inform him of that right.

The Protection of Personal Information Bill which is currently being debated by Parliament may soon impose further restrictions on your business with regard to direct marketing.  If that Bill is passed in its current form, your business will be prohibited from collecting, recording, organising, storing, updating or using an individual's personal information for purposes of direct marketing, unless that individual is an existing customer or has given his specific consent.  Even if the individual concerned is an existing customer, you may only collect, store and use his personal information if it was obtained from the customer in the context of a sale, if you do so for the limited purpose of marketing your business' products and services and if the customer has had a reasonable opportunity to object to the use of his electronic details at the time when that information was collected and each time that you market to him.

If the Bill is passed into law in its current form, your business will have one year after the Bill comes into effect to ensure that it complies with these requirements.  In order to avoid any unnecessary disruption to your business' marketing efforts after the Bill becomes law, it is advisable to now start taking steps to ensure that you obtain all necessary consents.

Cathryn Bode, Partner

Contact: 031 575 7407 and bode@wylie.co.za