ASA reviewer to pay judicial review costs

Protocol response 'inadequate' and concession late

The Administrative Court has ordered the Advertising Standards Authority’s Independent Reviewer (IR) to meet the costs of a judicial review claim.

The IR’s role is to review challenges to adjudications of the ASA Council. The claimant, UK2 Numbers, alleged that the IR had failed properly to deal with its challenge to an ASA Council adjudication on one of its adverts. The adjudication was said to be irrational.

The IR had initially dismissed UK2 Numbers’ challenge altogether. The claimant contended that was an unlawful decision. After receipt of a pre-action letter the IR had a partial change of heart, but envisaged a re-investigation of the original issue. The claimant argued that he should have upheld its challenge in full.

Proceedings were issued and served. The IR initially contested the claim in the Acknowledgment of Service. A few weeks later the IR ruled that the original ASA adjudication should be expunged. The claim became academic, and was discontinued save for the issue of costs, on which Dobbs J ruled on the basis of paper submissions.

The Judge held that the IR (Sir Hayden Phillips) should pay the claimant’s assessed costs from the preparation of the protocol letter before claim up to and including the submissions on costs.

Mark Warby QC and Nigel Abbas acted for the claimant. For the 5RB case report click here.