The Advertising Standards Authority has won a landmark High Court ruling
preserving a string of its judgments made earlier this year.
The ruling, which helps restore the ASA’s authority following criticism
about its lack of standing, follows two appeals made to the High Court
by Dixons Stores Group.
At the heart of the dispute were two ASA rulings in May 1995 on national
press ads for the Dixons and Curry’s brands. A competitor made six
complaints, four of which were upheld by the ASA. One leaflet, for
example, claimed ‘Britain’s lowest prices guaranteed’, although the
retailer only offered to match, not beat, competitors’ prices.
Last week, Mr Justice Popplewell dismissed challenges to the rulings,
made an order for costs against Dixons and refused it leave to appeal.
‘It’s sad when these cases do get taken to court but I don’t think
consumers would like it if we were seen to be too close to the
advertisers all the time,’ the ASA’s director of communications,
Caroline Crawford, said. ‘Self-regulation works because we have been
scrupulous about being fair and impartial.’
Dixons now has to consider whether to make an appeal to the European
Court. It might find itself with an unlikely partner. City Trading, the
soft porn video manufacturer that was also involved in an unsuccessful
High Court clash with the ASA, told Campaign it might be prepared to
join in any European appeal.