Ad description

A Google sponsored search result stated "£3.99 Legal UK Deed Poll.  Officially change your legal name by Deed Poll - Accepted by UK Gov".


Deed Poll Office Ltd challenged whether the URL misleadingly implied the advertiser's service was associated with or endorsed by the government.


Halliwell McGregor & Doherty (HMD) did not believe their ad or URL was misleading in anyway.  They said, however, if their website had the suffix, "", they could understand a cause for concern. They had used that website address for over three years without any confusion and believed none of their customers had been misled.



The "HMD" in the URL which appeared within the sponsored search result was an acronym for Halliwell McGregor & Doherty.  However, the abbreviation "HM" (Her Majesty) was often used as a prefix for government services and departments, such as HM Revenue and Customs, HM Court & Tribunal Service and HM Treasury.  The ASA considered consumers were likely to be familiar with that abbreviation. Consequently, the URL "" within the ad was likely to be seen by consumers as implying HMD's service was one provided by a government department, rather than one offered by a private, commercial company.   We therefore concluded the use of the URL within their sponsored search result was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  (Misleading advertising) and  3.50 3.50 Marketing communications must not display a trust mark, quality mark or equivalent without the necessary authorisation. Marketing communications must not claim that the marketer (or any other entity referred to), the marketing communication or the advertised product has been approved, endorsed or authorised by any public or other body if it has not or without complying with the terms of the approval, endorsement or authorisation.  (Endorsements and Testimonials).


The ad must not appear again in its current form.  We told Halliwell McGregor & Doherty not to imply they were a government department offering a deed poll service, when that was not the case.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.50    

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