Five Most Frequently Asked Legal Questions

We have outlined five of the most frequently asked legal questions we deal with through our Customer Service Call Centre at the AA.

1. Are reduced speed limits on a public road recommended speeds for that area or are they compulsory?

Reduced speed limits signs are regulatory signs meaning that they must be obeyed. The typical yellow background of the sign indicates that it is a temporary sign only and the reduction of speed is often due to unusual circumstances such as construction/improvement of roads. Traffic authorities can therefore legally prosecute speeding violations in zones where the speed has been temporarily reduced provided the necessary permission has been obtained and prosecution guidelines adhered to.

2. What are my obligations once I have sold my vehicle?

Regulation 53 of the National Road Traffic Act places a duty on a vehicle owner (‘person who has the right to use and enjoyment of the vehicle’) or titleholder (‘person who has the right to alienate a specific vehicle’) to notify the authorities if there has been a change of titleholder ownership of their vehicle. You will be required (whether you are the titleholder or owner) to submit your details as well as the details of the new owner/titleholder on a prescribed form called a ‘Notification of change of Ownership’ form which is available at any registering authority. A vehicle may not be disposed of without the registration certificate being given to the relevant party concerned in the disposal.

3. Do I have a legal right to demand a loan car from a dealership where my car is being serviced or repaired?

A vehicle owner does not have the automatic right to claim a courtesy/ loan car from a dealership. There is no legislated or common law provision for this. It has become practice for some vehicle dealerships to offer this service as a form of good customer service. Certain circumstances may warrant the insistence and provision of a courtesy car but the merits of each case must be considered before an individual can claim to be compensated with the use of a courtesy car.

4. My car was damaged in an accident that was caused by a third party. Does he have the right to insist on having my car repaired at his chosen repairer?

In terms of the law of delict you have the right to claim the fair, reasonable and necessary costs of repairs to your vehicle. The negligent party does not have the right to chose where your vehicle should be repaired, nor do you have the right to insist that he/she undertake to repair your vehicle at a specified repairer. The law allows you to recover the cost of vehicle repairs from the negligent party by proving what amount will be necessary to put you back into the position existing prior to the occurrence of the accident. You are entitled to negotiate with the negligent party as to what may be the best terms under which to settle your claim for damages.

5. Is there an automatic ‘cooling off period’ in law that applies to the purchase and sale of a vehicle?

Until recently a ‘cooling off period’ was only provided for by law where a consumer purchased the vehicle under a credit agreement with a financial institution. In terms of the National Credit Act a cooling-off period will apply to the sale on condition that the agreement was concluded at a location other than the registered business premises of the credit provider. Under these conditions the consumer has the right to terminate the credit agreement within 5 business days after the date on which he/she signed the agreement.

A new act of parliament called the Consumer Protection Act, which will come into full force and effect in October 2010, now makes provision for a cooling off period to apply to all consumer transactions, except those specifically governed by the National Credit Act and those transactions over which industry an exemption has been granted. The new Act provides that a consumer may rescind a transaction within 5 business days after concluding the agreement or receiving the goods.

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