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Why we need an Ethical Marketing Charter

Jonathan White, National Accident Helpline's Legal Director, explains why the Ethical Marketing Charter was established and outlines its goals.

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22 July 2015 / by Jonathan White / legal-blog

There has been growing media coverage and political pressure on the proponents of nuisance marketing recently, prompted by the increasingly widespread use of these damaging practices. In the last year alone, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) received over 180,000 complaints relating to cold calls.

"The Ethical Marketing Charter is to be warmly congratulated. It has thrown down the gauntlet to achieve high ethical standards and hopefully other firms are up to the challenge."

Phillip Hollobone MP (Conservative, Kettering)

Independent research that we commissioned from Populus last year confirmed that the public are feeling increasingly frustrated and harassed by these intrusive nuisance calls. 

Our Stop Nuisance Calls campaign revealed that 81% of consumers receive cold calls regularly, while 78% have had their meal times interrupted. Unfortunately it is often the most vulnerable in society who are most likely to be victims of cold calling - particularly the elderly.

“Nuisance calls is a very serious problem, especially for vulnerable and elderly people and so it’s great to see the personal injury sector come together to create this Ethical Marketing Charter to put an end to this practice.”

Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Minister for Welfare (Labour, Bishop Auckland)

As stated in our Customer Charter, we have never cold called or passed on consumers’ information to third parties without permission; however the personal injury sector is often singled out for criticism over its marketing practices - and at National Accident Helpline we felt it was time to act.

This is why we established the Ethical Marketing Charter in conjunction with others sector leaders, with the aim of bringing the sector together to encourage rogue players to stamp out bad practices and enable organisations to demonstrate their ethical and professional credentials.

“I am a strong supporter of the Ethical Marketing Charter, which will help to tackle the activities of cold callers and aggressive sellers who cause a great deal of distress and worry for many elderly and vulnerable people.”

Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrats, Carshalton & Wallington)

The Ethical Marketing Charter encompasses a set of commitments that signatories from the personal injury sector agree to adhere to:

•    Charter signatories stand firmly against nuisance marketing – they never cold call or send spam texts or spam emails.
•    Charter signatories stand firmly against the unethical buying and selling of accident data – they never misuse accident data to pressure people into making a claim.
•    Charter signatories stand firmly against inappropriate and misleading advertising – they never induce personal injury claims by making false or misleading promises in their advertising, and are clear and upfront about any exclusions to no win, no fee.

Although the Government has taken steps to crack down on organisations that practise cold calling, political will alone will not be enough to eradicate these damaging practices. Individual organisations, as well as industry as a whole, must work together to raise the ethical standards of our sector’s communication with consumers.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the organisations that have signed up to the Ethical Marketing Charter to date, as well as the regulatory bodies and parliamentarians who have supported the Charter. 

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