Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Solicitors claiming that they can obtain compensation for personal injury claims should: not advertise in a way that irresponsibly generates specious litigation (Rule 1.3); not present their services in a way that will offend or denigrate other solicitors or professions (Towells Solicitors, 2 June 2004 and Rules 3.42 and 4.1) and not imply that they cannot fail to obtain compensation for the claimant (Taylor & Emmet Solicitors, 10 July 2002, and Samuel Phillips & Co, 28 August 2002). The ASA is unlikely to find the mere offering of the services as unacceptable (Advanced Personal Injury Compensation, 4 January 2006) but claims that target readers without a legitimate claim are likely to breach the CAP Code. For example, the ASA received a complaint that an ad for a firm of solicitors that specialised in drink-drive offences was irresponsible because it encouraged people to drink and drive and avoid the consequences. The ASA has also received a complaint that an ad for solicitors offering a claims service for clinical negligence played on readers’ fears and undermined the NHS. One member of the public complained that another ad, for an injury claims service, was misleading, because it did not state that the claimant must establish the defending party was negligent. The ASA rejected all the complaints.
Marketers should be aware that tactics that are seen to ‘ambulance-chase’ or exploit the circumstances of those on the end of litigation could cause offence. The ASA has, however, been fairly lenient; it has, for example, rejected complaints about an ad headlined “Ditch the Bitch!” (Brookman Lawyers, 12 September 2001).