Posted: Tuesday 8 May 2012
If you were to ask members of the public what measures the UK government has taken to prepare for this summer’s Games, one would expect the building of Olympic venues, security arrangements and the provision of transport links to be the most popular answers. However, how many would mention the passing of legislation such as the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 and the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Advertising and Trading) (England) Regulations 2011?
In addition to establishing the Olympic Delivery Authority, the 2006 Act gave special powers to the Secretary of State to introduce new legislation to control advertising and trading in and around London 2012 events. These special powers eventually led to the passing of the 2011 Regulations in December of last year (similar regulations have been passed in Scotland and Wales).
The principal aim behind the Regulations is to prevent “ambush marketing” (this is best described as an attempt by a non-sponsor to associate themselves with an event) by prohibiting any advertising activity or trading which has not been authorised by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (for advertising) or the Olympic Delivery Authority (for trading) from taking place within event zones (the zones are identified on the official London 2012 website).
On the face of it, the Regulations may not seem too controversial. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to travel to our shores for the Olympics and it seems only fair that the UK government should take steps to ensure that the interests of Olympic sponsors, many of whom have contributed large sums of money towards making London 2012 possible, are adequately protected by restricting the type of advertising and trading taking place in and around Olympic venues.
However, if reports in the media are to be believed, there remain many advertisers and traders in the event zones who are confused about, or worst still unaware of, the Regulations and how they are going to affect their business during the Olympics.
If you are an advertiser or trader and you are in any doubt as to what you can or can’t do within an event zone, you should consult your local Council and/or solicitor as soon as possible. Any person (including directors or managers of businesses) caught flouting the Regulations will be deemed to have committed a criminal offence unless they can prove that the advertising or trading activity took place without their knowledge or that they took all reasonable steps to prevent it from taking place (or where it already has taken place, to prevent it from continuing or recurring). If they can’t prove such a defence, the unauthorised advertisement or trading could land them with a fine of up to £20,000 and a criminal record.