Misleading Advertising: UK Official Records Ltd breaks the UK ad rules for not making clear on the ukofficialrecords.co.uk website that is not an official service for the provision of certificates suitable for official purposes, such as birth, marriage, adoption and decree absolute certificates.
The CAP Compliance team has been taking market-wide action about the advertising of official services or documents on websites that are not the official government channel, including websites for certificates suitable for official purposes.
ASA research and subsequent ASA rulings have found that consumers were likely to infer that a website providing application services for, or a platform to obtain, government-issued documents or services was official, unless it made clear that this was not the case.
Amongst other requirements, websites should make clear their unofficial status by including a prominent disclaimer alongside calls to action, which should allow consumers to understand the non-official nature of the service and the additional cost of using that service compared to using the official service directly. Disclaimers should be prominent and separate from other information, and appear alongside calls to action and the most prominent price statements on each page.
Consumers can order copies of birth, adoption, death, marriage or civil partnership certificates direct from the official service, the General Register Office (GRO), via www.gov.uk for £9.25.
There is no prominent disclaimer on the ukofficialrecords.co.uk homepage that makes clear the website is not affiliated to the GRO or the UK government. Furthermore, there is no clarification that the cost of using UK Official Records Ltd’s service (from £13.99) is more expensive than using the official service directly.
The CAP Compliance team has been in contact with UK Official Records Ltd but they have not responded by the requested time, and the ukofficialrecords.co.uk website continues to breach the Code. Because of this continued non-compliance, we took the decision to place their details on this section of the ASA website on 2 January 2018. These details shall remain in place until ukofficialrecords.co.uk has been appropriately amended to ensure compliance with the CAP Code.