CPA Consumer Rights – A Discussion Of Lazarus Motor Company v Robert


The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is a pivotal piece of legislation in South Africa, designed to ensure that consumers receive goods that are free from defects and meet reasonable expectations of quality and safety. One fundamental right under the CPA is that a new car should be free of defects, including any form of rust. This principle was at the heart of the legal dispute in Lazarus Motor Company v Robert [2024] ZAGPPHC 423. The case highlights the responsibilities of sellers and the rights of buyers when a defect is found in a new vehicle.

Summary of the Dispute:

In November 2017, Robert purchased a brand-new Ford Everest from Lazarus Motor Company. A few months later, in January 2018, Robert discovered rust on the bolts in the vehicle’s rear loading compartment. He promptly reported the issue to Lazarus Motor Company and was asked to bring the vehicle in for evaluation. The dealership denied liability, attributing the rust to an alleged pool acid spill by Robert. Robert, however, provided photos showing extensive rusting on various parts of the vehicle, including the undercarriage.

Despite his efforts to resolve the issue, including contacting the Motor Ombudsman and the National Consumer Commission, Robert’s complaints were dismissed. Eventually, the National Consumer Tribunal ruled in Robert’s favour, ordering Lazarus Motor Company to remove the rust and repair the vehicle. Lazarus Motor Company appealed this decision.

Findings of the Court:

The court was tasked with determining whether the National Consumer Tribunal correctly applied section 55 of the CPA and whether the awarded repair remedy was appropriate. Section 55 of the CPA guarantees consumers the right to receive goods that are of good quality, in good working order, and free of defects. The court noted that even though the vehicle was still functional and had travelled 170,000 kilometres, the presence of rust made it less acceptable and unsafe than what consumers would reasonably expect from a new car.

Lazarus Motor Company argued that the vehicle was still usable for its intended purpose—transportation from point A to point B—and claimed that Robert bore the responsibility of proving that the rust was not a result of the alleged acid spill. However, the court found this argument unpersuasive. Robert had consistently denied spilling any acid, and there was no evidence to support the dealership’s claim. Furthermore, the rust was a latent defect, hidden under the carpet and not detectable upon initial inspection, which meant it fell within the protections offered by section 55(5)(a) of the CPA.

The court emphasized that the definition of a defect under the CPA includes any imperfection that renders the goods less acceptable and unsafe. The extensive rust on the vehicle met this definition. The court also highlighted that the dealership’s investigation into the cause of the rust did not fulfil its obligation to repair the defect. Therefore, the Tribunal’s decision to order repairs was appropriate.


The appeal by Lazarus Motor Company was dismissed with costs, upholding the Tribunal’s order that the dealership remove the rust and repair the vehicle. This case reinforces the protections afforded to consumers under the CPA, ensuring that they can expect new vehicles to be free from defects. It also serves as a reminder to sellers of their responsibility to address and rectify any defects, latent or otherwise, to maintain the quality and safety standards expected by consumers. The court’s decision underscores the importance of adhering to consumer protection laws and the expectation that new products, particularly vehicles, must meet reasonable standards of quality and safety.

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