The Buckinghamshire Trading Standards Team, which is jointly run with Surrey, has successfully been awarded a contract to supply enforcement services to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) through National Trading Standards.
The ASA is the advertising industry’s self-regulation body. It deals with complaints about advertisers and considers if they have broken any rules that the industry itself sets, eg. about inappropriate or offensive content or misleading claims in adverts.
While it can use sanctions against companies that don’t comply, the ASA itself doesn’t have any legal powers if a firm continues to break the rules. However Trading Standards does have legal powers to prosecute if laws to protect consumers have been broken.
The service Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards will supply to the ASA over the 3 year contract is known as a ‘legal backstop’ – giving the ASA the ability to refer cases of non-compliant, misleading non-broadcast advertising to trading standards who can use the law to enforce if necessary.
Awarding the contract, the ASA said that Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards was appointed having ‘demonstrated an excellent understanding of the advertising regulatory landscape and the importance of an effective statutory enforcement power to underpin our work.‘
Noel Brown is Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health and he leads on Trading Standards. He said: ‘This contract award recognises the excellent professional service and the wider experience and expertise our Joint Trading Standards Team offers.
It’s important to remember that most complaints to the ASA are resolved before coming to Trading Standards, who will use the law to enforce as a last resort – but it’s essential that this legal backstop is in place for non-broadcast advertisers who do act unlawfully – and I’m proud that it’s our Joint Team who will be behind this nationally important work.‘