Opinion

Misleading Advertising - don't

The UK's consumer protection legislation has been beefed up in recent years, most notably with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) which bans unfair commercial practices.

In a high profile case, two brothers - Victor and Henry Mears - have recently been found guilty on eight charges under the CPRs because of their handling and advertising of an 'amazing snow-covered Lapland village' which turned out to be something that the judge likened to 'an averagely-managed summer car boot sale'. Both have been jailed for 13 months.

Whilst this case doesn't involve the IT sector, readers need to understand that the authorities - often trading standards - are quite happy to get tough with 'rogue traders'.

By way of example, it's worth highlighting the prosecution by the Office of Fair Trading of Handpicked Media and their activities in promotional blogging. Here, the company got bloggers to publish online content promoting the activity of their clients. This in itself isn't a problem. However, failing to disclose the link between the blogger and the company is by virtue of being a misleading omission contrary to the CPRs, regulation 3(4)(b).

Remember that from the beginning of March the Advertising Standards Authority also now covers online advertising and media.

This was first published in April 2011

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