Watchdog sounds 'no win no fee' ads alert

FIRMS are to be warned by the advertising watchdog against using the term “no win no fee” in advertisements.

The Advertising Standards Authority is expected this week to tell firms they cannot use the popular term to promote conditional fees arrangements unless it is heavily qualified.

The expected move has been welcomed by legal expenses company DAS, which has been pressing the ASA for a ruling.

“It is patently untrue that litigants can sue for free,” said DAS general manger Paul Asplin. “The phrase 'no win no fee' should not be used unless the down-sides are mentioned.”

The ASA's expected ruling will lay down firm guidelines. A Law Society spokesman said the clarifications would be welcomed. Under its rules, firms must comply with the British Code of Advertising Practice, policed by the ASA.

The watchdog has already censured firms which have used the term in other contexts. Last year, it told Bristol firm Burroughs Day that a free advice line advertising “Accident? No Win – No Fee” was unacceptable, despite the firm's claims that precise fee arrangements were explained during the initial contact with clients.