What do you do?
CAP's Copy Advice team can provide pre-publication advice on any non-broadcast ads or campaigns, at any stage – although in our experience, earlier is usually better. We can look at concepts, imagery and/or copy – or just discuss an idea or answer a question.
Our aim is to help you establish any potential issues before you spend time and resources taking your ideas forward and proactively help you find solutions that will allow your advertising to achieve cut-through, but avoid complaints.
** Please note that we only provide advice in relation to the CAP Code, which does not cover TV or radio ads. For advice on broadcast ads, contact Clearcast for TV and Radiocentre for radio. We also do not give legal advice **
How much can you advise on?
We are able to provide detailed advice on submissions that amount to no more than four pages in a standard Word document (11pt text, normal spacing, screenshots may also be included for advice on presentation). Multiple submissions for the same ad/campaign made on the same day, will be taken together as one enquiry. Longer, text-heavy submissions are likely to receive less-detailed, principles-based advice and may take longer for us to respond to.
As a team tasked with the provision of advice and training across all non-broadcast media and all advertising sectors, we need to ensure we manage our limited resources effectively and proportionately.
We want to avoid implementing a hard limit on the number of bespoke enquiries any enquirer/advertiser may submit, but to offer a service that is fair and accessible for our enquirers and stakeholders, we may need to take steps to restrict access to our service. Any such restriction will be applied proportionately and we will communicate with relevant enquirers.
Abusive behaviour towards our staff will not be tolerated under any circumstances and will result in us refusing to provide advice and/or referring such behaviour to the police or other appropriate authority.
How long does it take?
We're open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays) and aim to respond to standard, free of charge, enquiries within 24-hours (not counting weekends and Bank Holidays).
For a faster response, we offer an express 4-working hour turnaround service at a cost of £300 (£250 + VAT @20%) for advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries. If your enquiry isn't suitable for an express response, or we are otherwise unable to respond within 4-working hours, we'll refund you promptly.
Media owners can request a faster response without charge, but should submit a standard request and contact the team to check the feasibility of providing this within the preferred deadline.
Is your service confidential?
The advice we give is confidential to the enquirer, but the ASA will be made aware of it if they receive any complaints on related content. We will not usually discuss advice given to a particular enquirer with any other person unless they can demonstrate to us that they work for the same company or are otherwise closely linked to the original enquirer, and were provided with a copy of the advice we had already given.
Although the team will not sign any non-disclosure agreements or confidentially contracts, we will treat in confidence any genuinely private or secret material supplied unless the Courts or officials acting within their statutory powers compel its disclosure.
Anything else I should know?
If your submission includes evidence to support any claims, we will endeavour to look at this as quickly as possible but it is likely to take longer than our usual timeframes.
In the case of particularly complex or technical evidence, we may be able to provide a preliminary view and some general advice, but we will no longer be seeking expert input when considering evidence. As such, the advice we can provide on evidence of this nature may be limited and we would encourage you to seek your own expert advice on the evidence you hold.
Where do I submit my enquiry?
All enquiries to the Copy Advice service and accompanying documents should be uploaded via our webform here. Enquiries are dealt with in a queue system in the order in which they are received.
You'll need to have registered and obtained a log-in first. If the files you intend to submit are particularly large, we’d recommend giving us a WeTransfer link or similar, rather than uploading through our website.
If you have accessibility needs that prevent you from submitting an enquiry via our webform, please contact the ASA switchboard on 0207 492 2222, and we will arrange for your enquiry to be submitted via alternative means. Please note that this process can only be used to make reasonable adjustments on the basis of accessibility needs, and will not be used in any other circumstances as an alternative to the webform.
**Please note: although it is given by the team in good faith, our advice is not binding on the ASA or CAP and our advisors do not give legal advice.**
Express Service - Terms and conditions
1. In these terms and conditions, references to ‘you’ and ‘your’ are to the person requesting the Express Service, and, references to ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ are to the Committee of Advertising Practice (“CAP”) .
2. The Express Service shall be provided on these terms and conditions.
3. Upon submission to us of your marketing communication in an easily accessible format and after we are satisfied that you have paid or that you intend to pay the relevant charge, the Express Service shall comprise a copy advice service which:
(i) provides pre-publication guidance as to whether or not proposed advertising or other marketing material is likely to comply with the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing;
(ii) is, in relation to clause 3(i) above, delivered within 4 hours (subject to the rest of these terms and conditions and, in particular, clauses 6(iii) and (iv) below); and,
(iii) provides aftercare relating to the copy advice service which comprises reasonable telephone access to the adviser who has conducted the copy advice.
4. The Express Service only relates to your marketing communication as submitted in final form to us. It does not relate to any other material, including future revisions of your marketing communication or any related material not submitted as being part of the final form of your marketing communication.
5. The charge for the Express Service shall be £300 (£250 + VAT @20%) if payment is made online via the website www.cap.org.uk, the “Website”.
6. Where the Express Service is provided (and charged for) in accordance with clause 5 above, the following shall apply:
(i) The said 4 hours shall be contiguous hours within the hours of 9am and 5.30pm during a normal working day in England. Where the entire 4 hours cannot be contiguous within one normal working day, the timing of the 4 hours shall stop at 5.30pm and continue again at 9am the following normal working day.
(ii) In order for the Express Service to be provided within 4 hours, you must select the "Express advice" option when submitting your enquiry on the Website and provide the final form of your marketing communication.
(iii) The 4 hours shall commence from the receipt of either the payment of the relevant charge (as set in clause 5 above) or where we are satisfied that you intend to pay the relevant charge and the request set out at clause 6(ii) above. Where our sole consideration is that more material is required from you, we shall inform you promptly. Where more material is required from you, the 4 hours shall commence from when we notify you (acting promptly) that we are satisfied that we have all your relevant material.
(iv) Where our sole consideration is that the final form of your marketing communication, or the accompanying substantiation, raises complex issues and the Express Service cannot be provided, we shall advise you of this (and refund any monies paid for the provision of the Express Service) promptly. Our decision in this matter is final.
7. We shall not be liable for any damages arising from the provision of the Express Service, or the failure to provide it in time or at all, beyond any charges paid by you for the provision of the Express Service.
8. The Express Service is advisory, provided in good faith and is confined to information current at the point of delivery. Nothing provided as part of the Express Service binds CAP or the ASA in any of its future conduct. The Express Service should not be accepted on any expectation that its purchase will influence or fetter CAP or the ASA in any of its future dealings (including ASA rulings) in relation to you.
9. The Express Service is provided for you and in relation to your marketing communication. No person other than you shall have any benefits conferred upon them as a result of the provision of the Express Service and/or these terms and conditions.
10. The provision of the Express Service does not constitute any type of endorsement of any products or services whatsoever. Any representation by you to that effect (or action that leads others to make such representations) shall constitute a breach of these terms and conditions.
11. The Express Service does not comprise or constitute legal advice.
12. Any advice or any other documents and/or materials provided as part of the Express Service shall remain our intellectual property. We grant you a licence to reproduce any written report or any other documents and/or materials referred to above in accordance with these terms and conditions and only in their whole and original form.
13. We shall not be liable for any delay in providing the Express Service if such delay is due to events beyond our control. In such circumstances we shall deliver the Express Service at the soonest time after the delaying events have, in our sole opinion, concluded.
Last updated – April 2023