The UK Rules
Marketing Law

Marketing and Advertising Laws UK

The UK laws on marketing and advertising are strict, prohibiting all unfair commercial practices. You must ensure any advertising, including direct marketing, meets the current codes of practice.

Certain regulations affect and restrict what advertisers can do - and cannot do. Besides that, advertisers need to describe the product or service in an accurate manner.

Specific laws and regulations apply to the different forms of marketing and advertising used in the United Kingdom.

So, when a business advertises to consumers or to other businesses (B2B), it must be an advert that is:

There are two essential advertising codes of practice to follow on top of the regulations. Adhering to the BCAP and CAP codes will help you make legal advertising and marketing campaigns.

Specific Requirements for Some Products

UK laws on marketing and advertising also implement specific requirements to certain sectors. Among the most common are:

An Example:

You would not be able to claim and advertise that a drink is 'low in alcohol' unless it contains between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol by volume.

Protecting Data in Advertising

As a rule, advertising and marketing will result in the gathering, using, and storing of information about present or potential customers. In this case, the rules on data protection and your business would apply.

Regulations Affecting Advertising

Advertising to Consumers

A whole raft of regulations affect the way businesses advertise to consumers. The laws come from the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (and the amendments in 2014).

As such, you cannot use adverts to mislead or harass consumers. Typical examples might include those which:

Note: CMA produce a basic guide for businesses on the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

Advertising to Businesses (B2B)

The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations covers the law on advertising to businesses. All adverts must be accurate and honest. Besides that, you must not make any misleading comparisons with your competitors. Typical examples might include:

Note: You can download legislation titled 'The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008'. It details further regulations covering advertising to businesses.

Penalties for Breaching the Regulations

There are severe consequences for breaking the regulations on advertising. If you get reported to a local Trading Standards office it can result in a fine, prosecution, or imprisonment.


Advertising Codes of Practice

There are various ways to advertise your product, such as in broadcast media and non-broadcast media. But, all adverts must follow the advertising industry codes of practice in United Kingdom.

Describing Your Product

The description of a product must be accurate when used in advertising. Thus, making a claim about your product means you must be able to prove what you are saying.

Direct Marketing Regulations

Businesses need specific consent to send most types of direct marketing strategies to customers. You must follow direct marketing rules in United Kingdom to avoid the penalties for breaking them.

Marketing and Advertising Laws in United Kingdom