These procedures are designed to assist any person wishing to complain about a breach of the Sponsorship Code. Adherence to these procedures will ensure effective and timeous resolution of complaints. The procedures are designed to grant all concerned a fair and equal opportunity to be heard without fear of bias.
It should however, be noted that the ASA is not a court of law, and these procedures, which serve as a guide, are not wholly inflexible. Should circumstances arise where good and valid reasons justify a departure from usual procedure, these will be taken into account, but always at the discretion of the ASA and/or the Committees.
Lodging a formal complaint
The formal complaint
All formal complaint should meet the following criteria:
- The complaint should be in writing.
- The grounds on which the complaint is based must be clearly stated.
- In the case of advertising, the relevant advertising should be attached, or the time, date and nature (TV, radio, outdoor or cinema) should be specified.
- Preferably, the address, contact name and number of the offending party should be included.
- The details of the complainant should be clear. The anonymity of complainants will be maintained at the discretion of the ASA and/or the Committees, if specifically requested
- If possible, and if known, the relevant clauses of the Code .should be cited. Should the complainant not be able to do so, the ASA and/or the Committees will consider the complaint in terms of the clauses it regards as relevant and deal with the complaint as if it was lodged in terms of those clauses.
Documentation and Representation
- All documentation submitted must conform to the following specifications:
- Relevant to the complaint considered
- Only essential background information
- Clear and concise
- Systematic approach
- As factual as possible
- Representation, personal or otherwise should be brief and to the point:
- It is not necessary to reiterate issues already covered in correspondence or documentation previously submitted as the Committee members will be au fait therewith.
- Representation serves the purpose of summarising. clarifying or adding new information only and should be limited to such purpose.
- Presentations will normally be limited to 10 (ten) minutes per party. Should additional time be required a written request must be submitted to the ASA Directorate within a reasonable period prior to the hearing.
- The ASA Directorate shall have the primary responsibility of applying the Code.
- The ASA Directorate shall give attention to possible breaches of the Code, brought to its attention by a formal complaint or in any other way acceptable to the ASA Directorate, by investigating and ruling on the matter or referring it to the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee for a ruling.
- Any party who feels aggrieved by the ruling of the ASA Directorate may request that the matter be referred to the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee.
- Once a ruling has been given by the ASA Directorate or by the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee, it shall be the responsibility of the ASA Directorate to ensure that the ruling is adhered to and carried into effect.
- Frivolous or invalid complaints will not be considered.
- If the complaint appears, prima facie, founded, it is sent to the respondent for written comment. The respondent will usually be allowed 5 working days to respond to a complaint or enquiry
Circumstances may however warrant an immediate or longer period of response, as determined by the ASA Directorate.
- Should the respondent ignore a reasonable request for co-operation, the ASA will issue and AD ALERT to its media members (including newspapers, magazines, radio, television and Printing Industries Federation).
Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee
- The Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee will consider all complaints either through referral to it or through a request by any party who feels aggrieved by a ruling made.
- The relevant information and documentation as submitted by the respective parties will be remitted to the Committee members and it is therefore vital that such information and documentation is clear, comprehensive and concise. It is not necessary to state the full text of the clauses applicable - reference to the number and section will suffice.
- Personal representation is permitted at the hearing.
- A maximum of three persons per side is normally permitted and the names and designations of such persons should be submitted to the ASA within a reasonable period as determined by the ASA.
- A short time for questions and any further clarification required by the Committee is provided for.
- Written submissions should reach the ASA 7 days prior to the hearing.
- Rulings of the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee shall be conveyed to the parties concerned as soon as possible after the meeting. This is usually done in writing on the day following the hearing.
- Any party who feels aggrieved by the ruling of the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee shall have the right to appeal to the Sponsorship Appeal Committee against such ruling, in accordance with the appeal procedure.
- Should an appeal be lodged, the decision must be adhered to until reversed by the Sponsorship Appeal Committee.
- The Chairperson of the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee may co-opt any person or persons to serve on the Committee to assist in determining any specific complaint.
- Any party who feels aggrieved by a ruling of the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee may appeal against such ruling to the Appeal Committee/
- The Directorate, the Chairperson and two Sponsorship Appeal Committee members will however retain the discretion to reject an appeal if, after due consideration of all circumstances and factors, it is found by unanimous decision that the appeal is either:
- An unfounded appeal in the event of a clear and direct contravention of the Code.
- A malicious or wilful appeal.
- Any request for an accelerated appeal will be at the sole discretion of the Chairperson of the Sponsorship Appeal Committee, who will, if granted, determine the procedure.
- Pending adjudication of the appeal, the decision of the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee must be adhered to.
- The decision made by the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee is appealable only within the boundaries and scope of the complaint and corresponding ruling. A call for further information by the Committee or a commission to do research, constitutes an interim ruling and is not appealable as a return date (the next sitting of the Committee) provides opportunity for the final hearing and decision.
- Notice of appeal must be given in writing and lodged at the offices of the ASA by close of business within 4 weeks of the date of notification of the decision appealed against.
- The notice of the appeal should be supported by full documentation on the matters forming the subject thereof and as many copies as may be required by the Executive Director (usually 12) must be submitted to the ASA. The documentation must be clearly paginated.
- To cover the cost of the appeal, both the complainant and the respondent will be required to lodge a sum of money, the amount to be advised by the ASA., lodged with the Directorate to serve as an guarantee. The Chairperson of the Appeal Committee may either at the conclusion of the appeal hearing or within a reasonable period thereafter, award the cost of the appeal against any on or other of the parties, normally the loser, or in such proportion as the Committee may determine.
- A copy of the appeal documents will be submitted to the respondent within 3 working days of receipt by the ASA.
- The respondent will be entitled to reply thereto within 7 working days of the date on which it was submitted.
- A copy of a document which may be submitted by the respondent in reply to the appeal will be submitted to the appellant within 3 working days from the date of receipt by the ASA before the appeal is considered.
- The parties and/or their representatives will be entitled to appear before the Sponsorship Appeal Committee.
- The Sponsorship Appeal Committee will consider an appeal within 4 weeks of the date on which the appeal was lodged, subject to the availability of the Chairperson.
- The Sponsorship Appeal Committee may refer any matter back to the Sponsorship Dispute Resolution Committee for reconsideration or for such action as the Appeal Committee may determine.
- The Sponsorship Appeal Committee may co-opt any person or persons to serve on the Committee.
- Expert evidence and research may be considered and solicited by the Appeal Committee, the cost of which are to be allocated at the discretion of the Appeal Committee.
Enforcement of Rulings
Where a ruling made by the ASA and/or the Committee pertaining to advertising, the advertising should be withdrawn as soon as possible but within the following deadlines:
- Newspapers:Immediately as deadlines permit
- Radio:Immediately as deadlines permit
- Television:Immediately as deadlines permit
- Magazine:Immediately as deadlines permit
- Outdoor:3 months or as determined otherwise by the ASA and/or the Committees
- Pamphlets & Leaflets:As determined by the ASA and/or the Committee
- Packaging :3 months or as determined by the ASA and/or the Committees
The ASA and/or the Committees may reserve the right to impose any other form of sanction warranted by particular circumstances such as:
- Withholding of advertising space;
- Pre-clearance requirement;
- Adverse publicity; and
- Referral to a disciplinary hearing.