Law firm’s medical negligence advert was misleading, ASA rules

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21 May 2014

Online advert: ASA ruling

An internet banner advertisement by an Essex law firm which showed a woman’s face above the slogan “awarded £40,000 after cosmetic surgery – claim now” was misleading, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled.

Mullis & Peake, based in Romford, which operates the website, has agreed not to use the advert again and to ensure that any used in the future do not “exaggerate the likely benefit to consumers of using their service”.

The law firm told the ASA that the advert referred to an actual claim in which a client received £40,000 compensation for the “effects of extreme medical negligence following breast augmentation”.

The ASA said: “They said that amount had not been artificially inflated to include other costs such as solicitor’s fees and therefore the compensation sum awarded had not been exaggerated in any way.

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“ explained that the ad contained a click-through link to their website, which gave more detailed information about the specific case study referenced as well as two others.

“They stated that there was no such thing as a typical compensation award in cases involving clinical negligence because no two cases were alike, and they had therefore chosen to quote the actual amount received by one of their clients in the ad.”

The ASA ruled that that documentation supplied by the website was enough to substantiate their claim.

However, the authority noted that the advert “contained no information other than the company name and logo, a picture of a woman’s face, the claim “Awarded £40,000 after cosmetic surgery” and a click-through link labelled “Claim Now”.

“We considered that, because the ad placed an emphasis on the amount of money awarded to a client of without giving any background information as to her circumstances (including the fact that she had suffered the effects of ‘extreme medical negligence’), consumers were likely to understand that amount to have some degree of relevance to the circumstances of those viewing the ad.

“On that basis, we considered that needed to demonstrate that the award amount of £40,000 was not typical of the compensation received by their clients.”

The ASA said that two other case studies on the company’s website featured clients who had received significantly less than £40,000, and no further evidence had been supplied regarding the range of award amounts previously negotiated on behalf of their clients.

“In the absence of such information, we concluded that the ad exaggerated the likely benefit of pursuing claims against the medical profession through use of the advertised service.”

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