Neil Hudgell Solicitors has been forced to pull a TV advert after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the public could confuse a website displayed in the advert with the NHS.
ASA said that ten people had complained about the advert because it implied a link with the NHS which added "legitimacy" to the firm and ordered Neil Hudgell to remove any reference to the initials NHS from future advertisements.
The advert depicts scenes of road accidents, accidents at the workplace and work-related illnesses. In one scene, a patient is shown being tended to in a hospital bed while a voice-over points viewers to "visit NHSLaw.co.uk".
It then says: "We specialise in all types of personal injury claims. We also have 15 years' experience in medical negligence, including dental negligence, surgical errors, maternity care failure, hospital and care home neglect and GP negligence."
Towards the end of the advert, the voice-over says: "Call Neil Hudgell Solicitors today […] and speak to one of our specialist lawyers or visit NHSLaw.co.uk."
In a statement on the ruling, ASA said that it had noted that a significant portion of the voice-over and visual imagery of the ad focused on medical claims.
"The term 'NHSLaw', included as part of the website URL in on-screen text featured throughout the ad, was intended to reflect the initials of the company trading name, Neil Hudgell Solicitors," it said.
"We considered that the use of blue font against a white background for the URL was reminiscent of the colour scheme and logo of the National Health Service, and particularly because the initials were rendered in upper-case lettering. In addition, we were concerned that when the trading name "neil hudgell solicitors" was presented on screen towards the end of the ad, it appeared in lower-case lettering and with a different colour scheme to that of the website URL.
"We considered that the connection between the two was not sufficiently clear and, therefore, that the ad misleadingly implied a link between Neil Hudgell Solicitors and the National Health Service that was likely to add legitimacy to, and increase trust in, the advertised business," added the ruling.
In a statement, the firm said that it had no interest in misleading anybody.
"Whilst we have an enormous amount of respect for the ASA, and the important service it provides, we do not agree with their ruling in this case," it said.
“The initial recommendation was that there had been no breach of the BCAP Code rules. This was on the basis the advert made clear reference to pursuing other claims with no link to the National Health Service, such as for accidents in the workplace, and that the voiceover and on-screen text also included our full trading name."
These factors made it sufficiently clear that the term “NHS Law” was not intended to imply any link to the National Health Service, it added.