The Consumer Protection Act: No-fault liability of health care providers

M Nöthling Slabbert, Michael S Pepper


The introduction of no-fault or strict liability by the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) poses serious problems in the health care context. With a patient as a ‘consumer’ in terms of the CPA, health care practitioners may find themselves as ‘suppliers’ or ‘retailers’ as part of a supply chain, and potentially liable for harm and loss suffered by a patient in terms of the new no-fault liability provision. The claimant (patient) can sue anyone in the supply chain in terms of this provision, which places the health care practitioner who delivered the care in a very difficult position, as he or she is the most easily and often only identifiable person in the supply chain. Although the causal link between the harm suffered by the complainant will still need to be established on a balance of probabilities, the traditional common law obstacle requiring proof of negligence no longer applies. The article argues that this situation is unsatisfactory, as it places an increasingly onerous burden on certain health care practitioners.

Authors' affiliations

M Nöthling Slabbert, Unisa

Michael S Pepper, University of Pretoria

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Consumer Protection Act, legislation, healthcare

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(11):800-801.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-07-07
Date published: 2011-11-01

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