The ASA is a private limited company. It is not an official government body as many people believe.
It has no statutory authority (it is not granted any powers by government to enforce law) and has no statutory powers to bring any practitioner to court. Therefore, any adjudication made by the ASA is solely in the realm of the ASA panel’s assessment and has no particular validity in a court of law.
It was formed as a self-regulating body to oversee the media and advertising industries and more recently took it upon itself to extend its scope to internet advertising, promotion and website content.
The ASA acts on complaints from the public. This can of course be abused, as we have often seen, when malicious campaigns against integrative, holistic and natural therapies are run by those opposed to such practices.
Once it passes adjudication, it puts any negative assessment on a “black list”, to be found on the ASA website. It may use contacts within the media industry in an attempt to prevent the individual or group assessed from promoting in print or online media. However, this is done solely in a “private” capacity.
The ASA also threatens to take out Google advertising – an action that can be considered as illegal as it prejudices the right of fair trade for the person or group targetted. The ASA does not have any special rights that grants it the authority to denigrate your services or products.