Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

High Court to deliver judgment on ADI case on political advertising ban

Posted: 30 November 2006

The High Court will deliver judgment on Animal Defenders International’s test case on the ban on political advertising on Monday, 4th December at the High Court at 10am.

ADI’s application sought a declaration of incompatibility under s.4 of the Human Rights Act 1998 that the prohibition on political advertising on television and radio imposed by the Communications Act 2003 was incompatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ban prevented ADI along with thousands of campaigning organisations from advertising on radio and TV, including Amnesty and Make Poverty History whose TV ads were also banned. However, such organisations can advertise freely in most other European and Commonwealth countries.

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Potential Impact of Court Case

  • If the challenge is successful, analysts indicate a massive boost in advertising expenditure would sweep the UK, as thousands of companies, lobbyists and organisations broadcast pent-up views via increasingly interactive broadcast services[1].
  • The ADI case is seen in Europe as a test case for how issue advertising will be treated under the Human Rights Convention. If non-profit groups win the right to advertise in Europe, this is expected to open up a major new source of revenue for advertisers.[2]

Court Case

  • ADI is asking the Court to declare that the ban on political advertising in the Act is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • It will rely on case law from the European Court of Human Rights, which has declared a very similar ban in Switzerland to be incompatible with Article 10.
  • If successful, the Court will make a finding that the ban violates the right to freedom of expression and that the relevant provisions of the Communications Act 2003 are incompatible with the rights guaranteed by the Convention and that the will of Parliament should be overridden.
  • The next stage would be that the Government will either have to amend the legislation immediately, or face proceedings in Strasbourg which would almost certainly come to the same conclusion in which case the Government would then be obliged to take steps to remedy the violation of Article 10.
  • Ultimately the result is expected to be an amendment to the legislation so that those currently defined as political organisations (although possibly not political parties) would be entitled to use broadcast media to advertise.

My Mate’s a Primate Campaign

  • The banned TV ad was part of ADI‘s “My Mate’s a Primate” campaign launched last summer by TV star and author Alexei Sayle to protect primates against their use by commercial interests for entertainment (circuses, films, TV programmes & advertising), the pet trade, in experiments and as bushmeat (wildlife food) and to conserve their habitat.
  • The campaign highlighted how the unprecedented clearing of African forests by logging companies has opened the way for hunters to ‘take’ over $2 billion worth of wildlife a year. This is having a devastating effect on our environment as the ‘empty forest’ syndrome in parts of Africa bears witness.
  • Primates are primarily found in tropical rainforests and play an important part in the ecosystem helping to disperse seeds and pollinate plants. To meet the demands of the global trade in endangered species nearly 40,000 primates are taken out of their habitat. Their removal upsets the balance of nature and presents a major threat to the environment.

For more information about Bindman & Partners contact Tamsin Allen, Partner in the Media and Public Law department at Bindman & Partners on . Bindman & Partners was founded in 1974 by a small group of Solicitors specialising in civil liberties and the rights of the individual. These concerns have remained at the heart of the firm as it has grown to its present size of 13 Partners and 65 other staff and is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading human rights practices.



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