The short answer is, yes, for reasons I will explain.
The CAP Code is, in essence, a self-regulatory rule book in the UK for non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications. (There is a separate code dealing with broadcast advertisements etc).
The CAP Code covers a wide range of UK advertising, including but not limited to newspaper and magazine adverts, those in circulars, email and text transmissions, posters, on-line advertisements (including banners and pop-ups), advertorials and offers/prize competitions, as well as lots in between.
There are a number of exceptions, one of the notable ones being media marketing communications addressed only to medical, dental, veterinary or allied practitioners relating to their expertise (all of which are subject to separate regulation).
The Code is maintained and enforced by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). It is enforced against offending advertisements through agreements with media publishers and where the advertiser is a member of a CAP organisation, through the terms of individual membership agreements.
The Code supplements the law and is administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which investigates and rules on complaints regarding advertising.
The system is largely self-regulated, with advertisers complying with ASA rulings. Advertisers who do not comply will receive adverse publicity (because rulings are published) and media publishers may decline to carry offending advertisements. The ASA can impose a pre-publication vetting process on advertisers and ultimately can refer non-compliant advertisers to a Trading Standards Department for legal action under applicable legislation.
Applying the CAP Code
The Code sets out the fundamental principle that all advertising should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
It goes on to require that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, that unsolicited e-mail marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such (without the need to open the mail) and marketeers must make clear that “advertorials” are marketing communications.
The Code itself is divided into various sections which contain rules covering misleading advertising, harm and offence, children, privacy, political advertisements, promotional marketing, distance selling, use of data for marketing, environmental claims, medicines, medical devices, health related and beauty products, weight and slimming control, financial products, food supplements and associated health and nutrition claims, gambling, lotteries, alcohol, motoring, employment, home working and business opportunities, tobacco and related items and e-cigarettes.
For the detailed rules, please go to: https://www.asa.org.uk/Codes-and-rulings/advertising codes/non-broadcast-code.html
How The System Works
Members of the public, competitors or any third parties can lodge a complaint about an advertisement with the ASA. The ASA will investigate and inform the marketeer of its ruling and, if necessary, ask the marketeer to withdraw or amend the advertisement. Rulings made by the ASA are published weekly on its website: www.asa.org.uk.
Advertisements can be referred to the ASA copy advice team before they are published, either on a voluntary or mandatory basis, in order to seek advice on likely conformity with the CAP Code, although any advice given is non-binding.
As well as the adverse publicity from a ruling of the ASA, a marketeer may be denied media space for its advertisement which infringes the CAP Code or denied privileges (such as discounts) by its CAP affiliated trade association or professional body.
As noted above, the self-regulating nature of the CAP Code is reinforced by the law relating to unfair consumer terms and the protection of businesses from misleading marketing, through local Trading Standards and Environmental Health officers. This could ultimately result in a court injunction to restrain the use of the advertisement and penalties for contempt of court if the court order is not complied with.
 The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 or the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.
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