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