STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY LAW CLINIC LAUNCHES SIGNIFICANT PUBLIC INTEREST CLASS ACTION

An application was filed with the Western Cape High Court on 13 September 2019 in which the Stellenbosch University Law Clinic and 8 of their clients are instituting a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of defrauded consumers.

During recent months, the Clinic has been alerted to complaints from consumers concerning websites related to a company called Lifestyle Legal. These websites, which appear to offer loans and / or free loan finding services, induce consumers to conclude ‘agreements’ for unwanted services and immediately begin debiting moneys from their bank accounts. Consumers who are able to reverse these debits, begin to receive a barrage of threats and harassment from the relevant company, who also threaten to blacklist or take legal action against consumers in the event that consumers do not make payment in terms of the ‘agreements’.

The Clinic alleges that the purported agreements concluded between the relevant consumers (the members of the class) and the relevant websites (19 respondents in total), are unconscionable, unjust, unreasonable and unfair in terms of sections 40, 41 and 48 of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (‘CPA’), or alternatively unlawful under the common law. The Clinic further alleges that the respondent’s conduct in connection with their demands for and/or collection of payment, is unconscionable in terms of section 40 of the CPA, or alternatively unlawful under the common law.

The applicants seek an interdict ordering the respondents to shut down the relevant websites and to restrain them from debiting bank accounts and threatening consumers who have fallen prey to this scam. The Clinic also seek certification of the class in order to represent them in this class action against the operators of these websites. Ultimately, the applicants also request restoration of moneys illegally debited and compensation for resulting losses.

According to Professor Theo Broodryk, who heads the Law Clinic, "certification of an opt-out class action will assist to facilitate access to justice for the thousands of vulnerable consumers who appear to have been exploited by the respondents' reprehensible conduct".

For more information on the case or the SU Law Clinic visit www.sulawclinic.co.za or liaise with Mr Stephan van der Merwe, Senior Attorney and Notary Public at the SU Law Clinic at 021 808 3600 / 2707.


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