ASA Adjudication on McDoe & Jones
McDoe & Jones
20–23 Greville Street
15 August 2012
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
An e-mail, written in French, sent by a British law firm to French consumers. Beneath the headline "GET A CLEAN EUROPEAN DRIVING LICENCE" was text which stated "YOU ARE A HOLDER OF A FRENCH DRIVING LICENCE - WITH AT LEAST ONE POINT LEFT - YOU CAN THEREFORE MAKE THIS SWITCH ... Don't risk losing your driving licence and putting your professional activities in danger!!! Don't risk driving on a licence without points either - apart from the trouble [you will face] if the police carry out checks, your insurance will not cover you if you have an accident, which may have very serious consequences ... Switch your current French driving licence for a clean European licence, valid for life, issued by a European administration - and get around completely legally in France (even if you are a French resident), in Europe and worldwide". Text in bold stated "In accordance with the European Directives of 1996 and 2006 and Article R222-2 of the French highway code". Under a heading titled "Find out more", text read "We are a law firm based in London and Madrid [and] we operate at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg - We manage this switch in its entirety, getting the European licence is certified - We have been doing this for 15 years - Contact us for more practical and legal information on this process and to obtain a complete report". The ad listed an e-mail address ending in @coureuropeluxembourg.eu, a telephone number and the website www.mcdoejones.com. At the bottom of the e-mail there was an image of the logo for CURIA, the Court of Justice of the European Union, alongside the words "European Court of Justice of Luxembourg".
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the use of the CURIA logo, the reference to the European Court of Justice of Luxembourg and the official-sounding e-mail address were misleading; and
2. the ad offered a service which was not legal.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. & 2. McDoe & Jones spoke to the ASA by telephone after receiving our correspondence. They expressed surprise at the complaint and said the service they advertised was entirely legal and their use of the CURIA logo was correct. However, they believed the case did not fall within the ASA's remit. They told us that their company was based in Belgium and was not registered in the UK. Although the ad and their website stated that they were based in London, they said they had no office in the UK.
McDoe & Jones declined to give any contact details over the phone but said they would write to us giving information to demonstrate that the company was registered in Belgium.
1. & 2. Upheld
McDoe & Jones did not provide evidence to show that their company was registered in Belgium. The ASA attempted to contact them several times for further information, but did not receive a reply. We spoke to a Belgian representative from the European Advertising Standards Alliance, who was unable to find any record of the company registered in Belgium. We noted that the ad stated "We are a law firm based in London and Madrid" and referred to a website which was written in English and contained a UK address and phone numbers. In the absence of information to indicate otherwise, including any further response from McDoe & Jones, we considered that the evidence suggested they were based in the UK and therefore subject to the CAP Code.
We were concerned by McDoe & Jones' lack of substantive response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code clause 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We acknowledged that McDoe & Jones had stated the practice of exchanging a French driving licence for a clean European one was legal, and that they believed they were entitled to use the CURIA logo. However, because they had not provided evidence to demonstrate either of these points we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.10.1 (Legality), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.50 (Endorsements and testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told McDoe & Jones not to advertise this service or imply an association with the Court of Justice of the European Union unless they could provide evidence to justify doing so. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.