Trading Standards became the ASA's legal backstop for misleading advertising in 2013 – this means we can refer non-broadcast advertisers who continue to break the rules on misleading advertising to Trading Standards who can consider legal sanctions to bring them into line. Since then, the Compliance team has fostered a positive and effective working relationship with Camden Trading Standards, which was contracted by the National Trading Standards Board to perform the backstop function on a day-to-day basis.
The legal backstop is a vital weapon in our armoury but one we do not need to use often. On the contrary, when we are made aware of a problem, the Compliance team prides itself on working with advertisers to help bring their ads into line. On the relatively rare occasions when an advertiser is unwilling or unable to work with us, self-regulatory sanctions may become necessary. You are no doubt aware of the List of Non-compliant online advertisers on the ASA website and you may also have signed up to the Ad Alert mailing list.
When our sanctions have not brought about compliance, however, we can refer the advertiser out of the self-regulatory system and over to our backstop, Trading Standards, which will look to investigate potential breaches of the law.
See details of our referrals to Trading Standards.
As you can see, we have referred 20 advertisers to Trading Standards in the period May 2014 to present.
We will update the “status” field of the referrals page as appropriate, in accordance with Trading Standards’ assessment of each case, to allow consumers and advertisers to keep up-to-date.
The best way, of course, to avoid sanctions is to ensure that your ads are compliant. CAP has a range of services to help you keep to the rules, including free bespoke Copy Advice, or our online training.