A personal injury (PI) firm has been reprimanded for an “irresponsible” radio ad which encouraged accident victims to claim compensation “irrespective of injury”.
The news comes ahead of a £300,000 Law Society national advertising campaign, due to launch on Monday, that will promote PI lawyers and for the first time involve radio spots.
The Advertising Standards Authority has ordered KL LLP, which trades as Secure Law, to withdraw its advert and told it “not to encourage those who were not injured to make personal injury claims”.
The investigation was prompted by a complaint which claimed the radio advert was irresponsible because it appeared to suggest uninjured people should claim compensation.
The ASA said the advert breached rules on social responsibility and harm and offence.
In the advert a woman telephones a man and asks why he’s late and if everything is OK.
He responds: “Yeah fine, I just had a little bump in the car.”
He then repeats he is “fine” and asks for Secure Law’s number.
He repeats that he is “fine” for a third time, before a voice over states: “If you’ve been in an accident, make the second person you call Secure Law. They offer a no-win no-fee scheme, give you 100% of your claim and an upfront payment of up to £1,500.”
The ASA adjudication said the firm’s response to the complaint was to argue that it “could not encourage someone to make a personal injury claim if they were not injured, because it would be censored by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and would in all probability be put out of business, if not convicted in a court of law”.
The ASA continued: “They had to produce medical evidence from a medical expert to confirm that an accident had caused an injury. They said the ad did not encourage listeners to make an injury claim, because it did not mention injury. They also said they handled non-injury aspects of motor accident claims.”
A complaint was also registered with the RACC – commercial radio’s advertising clearance body – which approved the advert on the grounds that it made only minor references to personal injuries and was therefore not irresponsible.
However, the ASA upheld the complaint, saying that it considered that the statement “If you’ve been in an accident, make the second person you call Secure Law” encouraged listeners involved in road traffic accidents to contact Secure Law to claim accident compensation.
It said: “We considered that the voice-over claims relating to a no-win no-fee claim and payment of £1,500 implied that they related to personal injury, although in the context of someone who had been in a car accident but was uninjured.
“It was not clear on what basis the man in the ad had grounds to claim accident compensation and we considered that the implicit message encouraged listeners to make a claim irrespective of injury.
“We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the code.”
Secure Law did not return calls for comment.
The Law Society PI-specific campaign this year replaces its annual advertising that aims to encourage people to use solicitors more generally. The six-week push will involve online advertising and public relations, advertising at railways stations as well as inside thousands of buses and trains.
For the first time the society will be testing radio advertising in selected areas, and is also planning a YouTube video.
A spokeswoman for the Law Society said the campaign will cost “less than £2.30 per practicing certificate holder”. There are currently 126,000 practising certificate holders, which at £2.30 puts the cost at £290,000.