Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Amendment Bill: NCOP Negotiating Mandates; Conventions on Privileges & Immunities o

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Meeting report

TRADE AND INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE; ECONOMIC AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE: JOINT MEETING
19 June 2001
CONSUMER AFFAIRS (UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES) AMENDMENT BILL: NCOP NEGOTIATING MANDATES; CONVENTIONS ON PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES OF UN & SPECIALISED AGENCIES & INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: ADOPTION


Chairpersons: Mr M Moosa (NCOP) and Mr L Zita (NA)

Documents handed out
Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Amendment Bill [B28-2001]
Negotiating mandates on Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Amendment Bill

Relevant document
Presentation on the Conventions on Privileges and Immunities of the UN, Specialised Agencies and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)

SUMMARY
The negotiating mandates of all the provinces were presented on the Consumer Affairs Bill, a Section 76 Bill. The Bill with amendments was accepted by all the provinces, albeit with slight variations, except for the Eastern Cape, which rejected the proposed amendments outright because they claimed they defeated the intention of the Act. Gauteng's proposal was accepted and the Department will consider KwaZulu-Natal request that the Minister be required to provide reasons when exercising discretion in favour of permitting an unfair business practice in the interest of the public.

Both Committees voted unanimously for the Conventions.

MINUTES
Negotiating mandates: Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Amd Bill
Northern Province had a problem with the fact that there was no definition of a "person" referred to in Clauses 1 and 5 of the Bill. It also asked that the issue of someone talking on behalf of a person summonsed be made more explicit in Clause 3. Otherwise it accepted the Bill with the proposed amendments.

Gauteng accepted the Bill with the proposed amendments. However it suggested new amendments to Section 8B as follows:
"Notwithstanding section 8A, the Minister may apply to a High Court for an interdict suspending a business practice, or such other remedial action pending the outcome of an investigation by the committee in terms of section 8(1)."

Eastern Cape supported the Bill but not the proposed amendments tabled by the Department as "it defeats the intention of the Act".

The NCOP Chair noted that the Bill has gone through Cabinet, the National Assembly and the NCOP and that the Eastern Cape delegation was going to be outvoted.

KwaZulu-Natal supported the Bill with amendments. However it proposed that the Minister be required to provide reasons when he exercises his discretion in favour of permitting an unfair business practice in the interest of the public.

Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, North West and Free State accepted the Bill with the proposed amendments.

The NCOP Chair summarised the voting as follows: only the Eastern Cape rejected the amendments while other provinces supported the amendments with slight variations. He asked the Department's Legal Adviser to tackle the issues of the Northern Province, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Response by Department
Mr J Strydom (Legal Adviser) noted that the definition of a 'person' is legally defined as a natural person or a juristic person be it a company, a close corporation or a firm conducting business. The reason that there was no definition of a 'person' in the Principal Act is because there exists this specific generic definition of a 'person'.

The next issue was the request to be more explicit when Clause 3 refers to "on behalf of" with regard to an expert witness. It should specify that the person summonsed appear with the expert witness simultaneously.

Mr Strydom said 'on behalf' was a recognised phrase because it was assumed the person would be present. Ms L van Zyl ( Director: National Inspectorate) added that the summoned person was highly unlikely not to accompany the expert witness because the investigation would propose that that specific person be present.

The Committee agreed that it should be left as is.

On the Gauteng proposal for Section 8B, the Department said they would be glad be oblige with the amendment though it suggested deleting the final phrase "in terms of section 8(1)" because it creates the impression that the Minister can only do what he/she is entitled to do in terms of this amendment. It would be problematic if there was an investigation pending by the committee as the Minister should be in a position to exercise this remedy prior to an investigation pending in terms of 8(1).

Mr Moosa, for Gauteng, supported this.

The NCOP Chair noted that KwaZulu-Natal's request would be considered by the Department. What the final mandate wanted to achieve was that "the proposed amendments made through the engagement of the Department, considering the negotiating process, are agreed to."

Committees' visit to Department of Trade & Industry
The NCOP Chair noted that the visit on 22 and 23 August 2001 would be substantially the same as the last visit.

Ms C September (ANC) said the visit should not be one sided (from the side of the Department) but that the Department should know about the views of the Committees. The Chair agreed that the visit should be a two-way flow of information.

Mr L Zita (ANC) said one of the issues the committee would like to know about is the state of co-operatives in the country.

Convention on Privileges & Immunities of UN; Convention on Privileges & Immunities of Specialised Agencies; Agreement of Privileges & Immunities of International Atomic Energy Agency: briefing
The NCOP Chair explained to the Committee what the Conventions were about and the purpose was to subject them to South African laws since South Africa does not fall under the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

The Conventions were voted for unopposed by both Committees.

The meeting adjourned.

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