Who: Electronic Healing
Where: Advertising Standards Authority, UK
When: 4 August 2016
Law stated as at: 5 September 2016
In 2012, the ASA upheld 2 adjudications against Electronic Healing, a company providing alternative therapies and devices. The adjudications focused on email marketing and claims contained on the company website www.electronichealing.co.uk, relating to alternative therapies that claimed to provide significant benefits to various ailments. In both adjudications, the ASA ruled that there was no evidence that any of the claims made were accurate or could be substantiated. Electronic Healing made no response to the complaints made and the ASA ruled that the claims breached CAP code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
Following adjudications, Electronic Healing took no steps to amend or cease the advertising claims, continuing to mislead consumers as to the efficacy of the devices being sold.
The ASA referred the advertiser to Trading Standards (who have taken over the role of the ASA’s legal back-stop from the Office of Fair Trading), who in turn took action against Electronic Healing for breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and Food Safety Act. Whilst the matter has taken 4 years to resolve, the action was ultimately successful, with the two owners of the company ordered to pay £7,000 in legal costs along with a fine of £1,000 each. The defendants also agreed to forfeit £7,000 cash seized when a warrant was executed at their premises.
Guy Parker (ASA Chief Executive) commented on the judgment, stating that it sends out “a clear and strong message to advertisers that, where they are unwilling to cooperate and stick to the rules, there can be legal consequences”.
Why this matters:
This decision is significant, as it follows several years of a difficult relationship between the ASA and alternative therapy providers, who have been the subject of multiple ASA adjudications. The ASA is often accused of being a “toothless” regulator and the judgment is a clear signal that ASA and Trading Standards will take action against misleading advertisers who refuse to follow ASA adjudications.