The National Consumer Commission said on Friday it had reached a settlement agreement with Ford SA to offer compensation to motorists affected by the burning Ford Kuga SUVs.
The company has agreed to pay a R35m fine while consumers have three options – a cash settlement, dispute resolution or to fight a claim in court.
The first option is that Ford (FMCSA) will pay R50,000 each to those consumers who were owners of, or in lawful possession of, a Kuga FMCSA vehicle which combusted.
If they accept it, the payment will be “in full and final settlement of all claims that the consumer may have against FMCSA as a result of the damaged or recalled Kuga vehicles,” said the commission.
Consumers who want more than the offered compensation may submit a claim against FMCSA in terms of Section 61 of the Consumer Protection Act. This is the second option, but the commission cautioned against it as “arguing damages claims in court can be costly”.
As a result, it said it was agreed that advocate Terry Motau SC would provide alternate dispute resolution services as contemplated by Section 70(1)(c) of the CPA.
FMCSA will carry the “reasonable costs” of advocate Motau SC in considering any claims instituted.
If consumers choose to be represented by lawyers, “such representation will be at their own cost”.
Option three is if a consumer chooses to reject both the cash settlement and dispute resolution in favour of proceeding to prove damages in court.
The Sunday Times reported in September that the consumer commission had done an about-turn on its stated intention to prosecute Ford, after the company approached it to reach a negotiated settlement instead.
BY: GRAEME HOSKEN
SOURCE: TMG DIGITAL