News item

NTSB becomes advertising standards' legal backstop

National Trading Standards Board logoThe National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have reached an agreement that trading standards will serve as ASA's legal backdrop. This means the ASA can refer non-broadcast advertisers who continue to break the rules on misleading advertising to trading standards who can consider legal sanctions to bring them into line. 

The backstop power has been transferred to trading standards following oversight from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which previously fulfilled this role. Any advertiser that persists in breaking the rules through misleading, aggressive, or otherwise unfair non-broadcast advertising can face referral. Trading standards can consider taking action against advertisers under consumer and business protection laws.

The NTSB, the ASA, the London Borough of Camden (LBC) in England and Wales, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) worked closely together to broker the deal. 

'The NTSB continually looks for opportunities to facilitate ethical, legal business practices that help both enterprise and consumers,' said Lord Toby Harris, chair of the NTSB. 'Combining the strengths of the NTSB with the ASA allows both organisations to most effectively protect consumers.'

The NTSB and the ASA have agreed to new case handling principles. The ASA remains responsible for regulating advertising allowing trading standards to focus its resources on other consumer issues.  

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “We already enjoy a close and effective working relationship with trading standards. This new arrangement will help us become more joined-up and consistent as well as giving consumers and businesses confidence that an advertiser who doesn’t play by the rules will face the consequences.” 

For more information please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430 or

Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards. 

NTSB provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
DATE: 21 November 2013