Article | Last updated: 24/04/2012 | Ministry of Children and Families
The Marketing Control Act lays down the framework for business marketing to consumers and other business operators. The purpose of the Act is to prevent unscrupulous marketing.
The general nature of the Marketing Control Act
The Marketing Control Act is general and applies to marketing of all types of goods and services. There are also special provisions about marketing in other Acts. TV advertising, for example, is regulated in the Broadcasting Act, and the prohibition against alcohol and tobacco advertising is found in the Alcohol Act and the Act Relating to Harmful Effects of Tobacco, respectively.
The Act includes prohibition against misleading and aggressive marketing and marketing that violates principles of good marketing (i.e. unethical marketing). There are also statutory principles directing that marketing must appear as marketing and that factual claims made in marketing must be proven.
Unsolicited advertising – exclusion and advance consent
Consumers have the right to register against receiving unsolicited advertising via telephone or addressed mail. This is done by registering with the Central Marketing Exclusion Register in the Brønnøysund Register Centre (www.brreg.no).
Consumers can also register to stop unaddressed advertising and/or free newspapers. This is done by labelling the mailbox or door with a "No thank you" sticker. Electronic advertising via e-mail, SMS and similar media comes under a "Yes, please" scheme. This means that a person must consent to receiving such advertising before it can be sent.
Marketing that targets children
A separate chapter of the Marketing Control Act concerns protection of children. Children are a vulnerable group and particular care must be taken when it comes to commercial practices affecting them. The Act must be interpreted more strictly when children are the target group.
Unreasonable agreement terms
The Marketing Control Act also has an important provision concerning control over agreement terms. In many areas, for example transport and electrical power, business operators have drawn up standard agreement terms to be used with multiple consumers. The individual consumer normally has little influence on the terms in such agreements. The Consumer Ombudsman checks that standard agreements entered into by consumers are reasonable and balanced.
The Consumer Ombudsman and the Market Council
The Consumer Ombudsman is an inspection authority for the Marketing Control Act. The Market Council acts as an administrative "court of law" which is above the Consumer Ombudsman on legal issues.
Marketing that targets other business operators
Most provisions in the Marketing Control Act concern relations between business operators and consumers. There is also a separate chapter dealing with protection of the interests of business operators. In such cases the Consumer Ombudsman and the Market Council do not have the competence to intervene. Business operators must file suit before the courts or report the case in question to the police. There is also a committee dealing with cases involving violations of the law between business operators, where the committee can make advisory statements – Næringslivets konkurranseutvalg (Council dealing with unfair marketing practices).