Land Registry Online has been ticked off by advertising watchdogs for claiming the agency is the ‘official’ home of property title documents and searches.
The Land Registry Online web site proclaimed: “We are the home of official Title Documents & Property Searches … We are the leading Land Registry online search portal in the UK … Official Documents … We provide official Land Registry documents for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland”.
But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told the Land Registry Online to remove the word ‘official’ from all advertising and not imply they were a government service in the future.
The telling off followed a complaint that the web site was misleading as the Land Registry Online is an independent agency and not part of any government department.
Land Registry Online claimed the wording ‘official’ gave confidence to consumers that they were buying certified documents that they could rely on for legal purposes.
The organisation also explained the web site carried a disclaimer pointing out that the agency was the home of official title documents and property searches” rather than “The home of the official land Registry.”
The ASA was also told the Land Registry Online was an independent organisation with no affiliation to the government.
In the ruling, the ASA said: “We noted the wording and disclaimer, but because the wording was in a small font, in grey writing on a black background and at the bottom of the home page, we considered it was insufficiently prominent to alert consumers that they were using a private company and not an official government service.
“Because of these factors we considered the website gave consumers the impression that they would be using an official government portal for title documents and, because that was not the case, we concluded it was misleading.”
The ASA ordered Land Registry Online to ensure consumers could not imply the web site offered an official government service in future marketing.