We would like to place strictly necessary cookies and performance cookies on your computer to improve our website service.
To find out more about how we use cookies and how you can change your cookies settings, please read our  cookies statement.                
Otherwise, we'll assume you are OK to continue.   Please close this message

Update to the Advertising Standard Authority's Complaint Handling Procedures

1 September 2014

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published revised complaint  handling procedures for members of the public and industry to follow with regards  to both broadcast and non-broadcast advertising.

Under powers given to it by Ofcom, the ASA adjudicates under both the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising and the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.

The ASA must process any complaints it receives about advertising within its remit in a measured way, ensuring that the procedure is consistent, transparent and accountable.

Updates have been made in relation to the procedure for complaints handling in relation to:

  • broadcast advertising (this covers all broadcast advertising carried by Ofcom licensed TV and radio services, including traditional spot advertising, teleshopping output and adverts on interactive TV), and
  • non-broadcast advertising (this covers all advertising, sales promotions and direct marketing in non-broadcast media, including billboards, signs and magazine/newspaper advertisement). 

The main updates are as follows:

  • A right for the ASA to reject “repetitive or excessive” complaints.
  • Complaints about an online advertisement must include or the complainant must obtain a screen shot of the page or pages that relate to the complaint, or secure a cached copy of the website.
  • The section on confidentiality has been extended to include a provision that all parties contacted during an investigation must keep confidential all material and correspondence entered into or submitted in relation to the investigation (which is not in the public domain).
  • The circumstances under which the ASA will offer or agree to an informal resolution have been simplified - reasons now include whether the apparent breach has been remedied by an advertiser having been put on notice of the situation by the ASA, the complaints are not many and/or serious enough to warrant a formal investigation, and there is no obvious pattern of non-compliance by the advertiser.
  • The introduction of a new deadline for advertisers to request suspension of the publication of an ASA adjudication, which is now 10am on the Friday before the notified publication date.
  • An explanation of the role that the ASA’s Communications’ Team will have in dealing with enquiries by the media about complaints, with the aim of operating a “transparent press office”.

For more information please contact Ian Wood on +44 (0)20 7203 5124 or ian.wood@crsblaw.com