Sector advertising law and regulation

The following TMT practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sector advertising law and regulation
  • General legislative framework
  • Age-restricted products and targeting
  • Online ads
  • Other considerations
  • ASA approach to enforcement
  • Alcohol
  • Requirements of CAP and BCAP Codes
  • Portman Group Code of Practice
  • Food and drink
  • More...

Sector advertising law and regulation

This Practice Note examines the advertising of goods or services in certain sectors which have sector-specific rules imposed by regulatory bodies, statute, trade bodies or a mixture of all three. It covers the following:

  1. General legislative framework

  2. Age-restricted products and targeting

  3. Alcohol

  4. Food and drink

  5. Consumer credit

  6. Gambling and lotteries

  7. Tobacco and electronic cigarettes

  8. Telecommunications

  9. Environmental claims

  10. Medicinal products

  11. Political advertising

General legislative framework

In the UK, the main rules governing advertising are set out in the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) and the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) which generally replicate each other. They are self-regulatory rules which generally reflect the legal rules where they cover the same ground.

However, the Codes are applied in spirit as well as to the letter. This means that although an advertiser may be able to point to a requirement in the CAP Code and say they have complied with its requirements literally, they may not have complied with the intention of the provision concerned.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) expects advertisers to adopt a collaborative approach to compliance with the advertising Codes. Furthermore, the advertising Codes are not produced via a rigorous legislative process—new versions of the advertising Codes are not subject to anything like the level of scrutiny that new Acts of Parliament receive, for example,

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