ASA rules law firm’s flight delay claims adverts misleading

Loganair: Complained about four tweets and website

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a Scottish airline’s complaints that a Manchester law firm’s adverts for flight delay claims were misleading.

Versus Law, which operates the website, was told not to repeat the adverts, which failed to make clear to passengers that their claims were not guaranteed to succeed.

Loganair complained about four tweets in January about different flights that were delayed – while one of the tweets said passengers “may” be due compensation, the others did not include a qualification.

It also complained about a page on the website, which said: “All of the recently delayed flights have been checked and verified by our team and in many cases have already had successful claims made against the airlines.”

It displayed a list of Loganair cancellations or delays and included the four flights mentioned in the tweets, stating: “CANCELLED Claim Now”.

Loganair complained that the adverts implied compensation was guaranteed, whereas the flights in question were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, which rendered them ineligible for compensation.

It said the adverts also implied that third parties could make the initial claim for compensation – which was against its terms and conditions – and did not refer to Versus Law’s fees.

Versus Law told the ASA that, just because an airline claimed adverse weather conditions as a reason why a flight was cancelled or delayed, that did not mean a consumer could not claim. The firm would need to determine the exact circumstances of the day, for instance if all flights at the time were delayed or it was an isolated incident.

But the firm said it would amend the text in future tweets to be more conditional about claims.

Versus said airlines had different policies on whether third parties could complain and it did not know all of them.

It said it addressed the issue during the claim process, not beforehand, “because Loganair would have to provide evidence to confirm whether an individual had already complained directly to them or not”.

Even if the consumer had not complained to Loganair first, Versus said it would still want to see evidence that the consumer was contracted to the airline’s terms and conditions at the time of booking.

If the consumer had to complain directly in the first instance, the firm would provide advice and assistance and ask them to return if the airline disputed the claim.

Versus argued that “a consumer was entitled to start a claim through a legal representative, regardless of an individual airline’s terms and conditions, and should not be prevented from getting legal advice from any party before their submission”.

The law firm added that it would be “unworkable” to provide information about its fees at the outset.

In its decision, the ASA found the tweets that were not conditional and the website misleading. “While it was not unreasonable for Versus Law to advertise that they could help consumers claim compensation for flights that had been cancelled, even for adverse weather conditions, it was not the case that compensation was assured.”

On third-party complaints, the ASA noted that Loganair’s policy had been in place since 2018, while consumers would know whether they had already approached the airline. Their decision to contact Versus Law in response to the adverts “was likely to be affected by the knowledge of this requirement”.

This was, therefore, “material information that should have featured” within all of them.

The complaint over fees was upheld in relation to three of the tweets that specifically said passengers could claim €250 (Versus separately admitted this should have read €220).

The ASA said successful claims would be subject to a fee of 25% of the compensation if settled without litigation and 35% if litigation was needed (both plus VAT). There was also a £25 administration charge.

This meant that passengers would never receive the full amount advertised. This too was material information that consumers needed to have in order to make an informed decision about using the firm.

The ASA said: “While we understood that information relating to fees was made available on the advertisers’ website, it should have appeared within the ads.”

It ordered that the adverts must not appear again in the form complained of and future ones should take account of the findings.

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