In EU states such as Germany, consumer groups have long since been given powers entitling them to apply to the courts for injunctions banning advertising which breaches laws and regulations.
Topic: Consumer Protection
New development: Injunctions for the Protection of Consumers' Interests Directive
In EU states such as Germany, consumer groups have long since been given powers entitling them to apply to the courts for injunctions banning advertising which breaches laws and regulations. This has created a landscape in which advertisers are far more concerned about campaigns being decimated by offensive consumer group action than they are about possible opposition by competitors. In states like the UK, such threats are unknown as consumer groups have no legal power to take representative action against advertisers, but all this is about to change!
What will change: If traders are suspected of offending against rules laid down by any one of nine different EU Directives over the last 15 years, qualifying consumer groups will have the power to apply to the courts for injunctions banning the offending activity.
In many cases the Directives relate to advertising, for instance misleading (and soon) comparative advertising, consumer credit ads, drug advertising, package travel promotion, distance selling and timeshare advertising.
The UK Government anticipates that the criteria for qualifying consumer groups will see the Consumers' Association and many other bodies empowered to take action, thus opening up a completely new area of risk for advertisers (and their insurers).
Timetable: Implementation of the Directive is due by January 2001.
What happens next: The DTI will publish a consultation document with proposals in November 1999.