Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards becomes ASA's legal backstop power

We are pleased to announce that Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards (B&STS) has been appointed by National Trading Standards to act as our legal backstop. The backstop power has transferred to Buckinghamshire and Surrey following changes to Regulatory Services at Camden Trading Standards, who previously fulfilled the role.

This means we will now refer businesses and individuals who continue to break the rules on misleading non-broadcast advertising to B&STS, who can consider their range of legal enforcement powers to bring them into line.

Under our backstop power arrangement, any advertiser that persists in breaking the rules through misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair non-broadcast advertising can face referral. Trading Standards can consider taking action against advertisers under consumer and business protection laws.

This bolsters and complements existing partnerships we have in place with a range of other regulatory bodies, such as the Competition and Markets Authority, Gambling Commission and Financial Conduct Authority. These organisations all provide vital support in tackling problem ads that lead to consumer detriment, including online.

In establishing the new arrangement we worked closely with National Trading Standards. The process of finding a replacement was put out to tender across all of the 10 England and Wales regions with prospective partners invited to submit written proposals. Following a rigorous interview panel process B&STS was ultimately appointed having demonstrated an excellent understanding of the advertising regulatory landscape and the importance of an effective statutory enforcement power to underpin our work.

The Case Handling Principles established with Camden Trading Standards will continue to apply between the ASA and B&STS. Importantly, we remain the frontline of control for regulating advertising in the UK, allowing B&STS and other trading standards departments around the UK to focus resources on other consumer protection issues.

ASA Chief Executive, Guy Parker says:

“We’re delighted to establish this new working relationship with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards. They are fully committed to our partnership and acting on our referrals to bring problem advertisers into line. We look forward to taking a joined-up approach with them in protecting consumers and business from misleading and unfair advertising.”

Steve Ruddy, Head of Service Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, said:

“This scheme has proven to be an effective and efficient method of protecting the public and upholding good standards of advertising practice.  Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards are delighted to be selected to support the ASA by acting as the legal backstop to continue to maintain a robust system to protect consumers and businesses.”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:

“We are pleased to have appointed Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards to provide the legal backstop for the Advertising Standards Authority. We have a strong relationship with Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards and we look forward to working with them to ensure that the backstop continues to succeed in its objective of bringing those who persistently flout advertising law into compliance.

“In addition, should it be relevant, NTS can ask one if its other specialist teams (eg the NTS Estate Agency Team) to deal with an ASA compliance issue if that is the best solution”

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