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Misleading advertisers face legal threats as ASA strikes deal with Trading Standards

The ASA has teamed up with Trading Standards to crack down on companies that repeatedly break ad rules.

The ASA said it would now be referring repeat offenders to Trading Standards to consider legal sanctions. The authority said that it would move its legal backstop from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to Trading Standards – the OFT is set to close in April 2014.

Any advertiser that persists in breaking the rules through misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair non-broadcast advertising can face referral. Trading Standards can consider taking action against advertisers under consumer and business protection laws. 

The ASA has managed to get UK-wide coverage through partnerships with the National Trading Standards Board and London Borough of Camden in England and Wales, Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said: “This new arrangement will help us become more joined-up and consistent, as well as giving consumers and businesses confidence that an advertiser who doesn’t play by the rules will face the consequences.”

The move could be of concern for broadband providers, such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, all of which have been on the receiving end of the ire of the ASA for promoting products in a misleading manner.

As reported by Recombu, Virgin Media was forced to forced to change the terms of its unlimited broadband service after a ruling from the ASA.

The ASA also banned TalkTalk from airing an advert on television in which it claims it has the UK “best value unlimited TV broadband and phone compared to Sky, Virgin and BT”.

BT had its knuckles rapped by the ASA and was forced to pull a TV advert for its new Home Hub 4, because it misled customers about WiFi interference.

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