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ASA brings clarity to its complaints procedure
26 November 2014

The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) has revealed a revised complaints handling procedure, which aim to increase transparency, consistency and accountability of complaints processing.

Key changes:

  • The ASA now has a right to refuse repetitive, excessive and vexatious complaints. It will do so proportionately, such restrictions will be time limited, and shall be communicated in advance to the complainant.

  • Complaints relating to online advertisements must include a screen shot of the web page, a cached copy of the website or a note of where and when it appeared.

  • Parties to an investigation must keep confidential all material submitted and correspondence entered into during the investigation which is not already in the public domain.

  • Parties should not take steps that risk preventing the ASA from reaching a fair decision or which might otherwise constitute an abuse of process once a complaint has been made or investigation commenced.

  • The ASA has simplified the factors taken into account when offering/agreeing a resolution between the parties, which will assist advertisers seeking to persuade the ASA of the appropriateness of an informal resolution.

  • The time period for an advertiser to respond to a standard complaint has been reduced from 10 to 7 working days.

  • The full study rather than just an abstract will need to be provided where studies are used by marketers to substantiate their claims.

  • In exceptional circumstances, advertisers may be permitted to provide a 1000-word submission to be placed directly before the ASA Council.

  • Advertisers must make any request to delay the publication pending an independent review of an adjudication, by 10am on the Friday before the notified publication date.

  • Advertisements which appear on The Authority for Television On Demand notified services is a new category of complaints.

Advertisers will surely welcome these changes which bring certainty to the rules around vexatious complaints, deadlines, and the factors relevant to requesting an informal investigation.

For more information about the issues in this article or to find out more about how the Commercial team can help you please contact Sarah Williamson on 0118 925 7247 or email [email protected].

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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