Sumary of South Africa: Duped and Desperate Loan Seekers Bring Class Action Against Online Scammers:
- The High Court has ruled that the Stellenbosch University Law Clinic can lead a class action against Lifestyle Direct Group International.
- The law clinic says thousands of desperate people were scammed through websites into believing they were applying for much-needed cash loans but ended up with debit orders.
- The individual claims are small amounts and the judge said class action litigation gave ordinary working people who cannot afford exorbitant litigation costs access to justice.
- Stellenbosch University Law Clinic has been given judicial go-head to launch a class action against Lifestyle Direct Group International and its affiliated websites, in an attempt to claw back money it took from thousands of desperate loan seekers.
- In a judgment handed down in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, Judge Patrick Gamble also gave authority for the class action to be on an “opt out” basis, meaning that those who were allegedly duped will automatically become part of the litigation, unless they specify otherwise.
- that the respondents were “wily confidence tricksters” who exploited the informality of the internet and the financial difficulties of poor consumers “to perpetrate an array of frauds against innocent and vulnerable people on a daily basis”.
- “They seek to bring an end to this sorry state of affairs through the mechanism of a class action, and in the interim, through an interdict,” he said.
- In considering the development of class action law in South Africa, Judge Gamble said there were already guidelines and several matters had already been considered by courts, including the “most celebrated’ silicosis case, in which mine workers affected by lung disease sought to recover compensation for occupational injuries.