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Advertising guidelines Annexure A Rules of the Law Society


Index


1. Interpretation
2. A firm may advertise / publicise its practice
3. Touting not permitted
4. The content of publicity
5. Statements as to charges
6. Directory headings
7. Designation of a firm's practice
8. Group advertising
9. Professional announcements, advertisements for staff and the like
10. International aspects of publicity
11. Specific guidelines regarding marketing
12. The legal practitioner's responsibility for publicity
13. General


ANNEXURE A
GUIDELINES OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF NAMIBIA FOR ADVERTISING AND PUBLICITY


1. 1. Interpretation

In these guidelines, unless the context indicates otherwise, -

1.1 words or expressions shall have the same meaning as attached to them in the Legal Practitioners Act, 15 of 1995 and the Rules of the Law Society of Namibia ;

1.2 "advertisement” shall mean any form of advertisement and includes, inter alia, signage, brochures, directory entries, stationery, internet, website, other possible media and press releases promoting a firm's practice, and "advertising" shall have a corresponding meaning;

1.3 "publicity" shall include any direct or indirect reference to a firm, published or disseminated by any written, pictorial or aural means, in any medium including the electronic media and the internet, and "publicise" shall have a corresponding meaning;

1.4 any reference to "advertising", includes "publicity" and vice versa.

1.5 ”touting” without derogating from the provisions of Rule 21 (1) (t) shall mean directly soliciting work or soliciting work by direct approach.

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2. A firm may advertise / publicise its practice

2.1 A firm may engage in any advertising, publicity or promotion in connection with its practice, or permit another person to do so on its behalf, provided such advertising, publicity or promotion complies with the provisions of these guidelines and does not in any manner compromise or impair nor is likely to compromise or impair any of the following:

2.1.1 the firm's independence or integrity;

2.1.2 the client's freedom to instruct a firm of his or her choice;

2.1.3 the firm's duty to act in the best interests of the client;

2.1.4 the good repute of the legal profession;

2.1.5 the firm's proper standard of work.

2.2 All publicity must be in good taste with regard to content, prominence and medium, and whether or not publicity is of good taste, shall be determined by the Council. Firms may seek Council's prior guidance in this regard.

2.3 All publicity shall bear the name of the firm.

2.4 Publicity may not -

2.4.1 be inaccurate or likely to mislead;

2.4.2 include statements about the firm's success rate;

2.4.3 be so frequent or obtrusive as to cause annoyance to those to whom it is directed;

2.4.4 make comparisons with, or criticise, other firm/s or members of any other profession;

2.4.5 criticise the quality of, be comparative with, or claim to be superior to the service provided by any other firm or any section of the legal profession.

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3. Touting not permitted

Notwithstanding anything contained in these guidelines, touting shall not be permitted.

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4. The content of publicity

4.1 Requirements

All publicity must comply with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act, 15 of 1995, the Rules of the Law Society and the common law.

4.2 Naming clients

4.2.1 A firm may refer to the name of a client in the public media only with the client's consent. However, reference may not be made to the name of a client in any publicity by the firm.

4.2.2 When advertising property for sale or to let on a client's behalf, a firm may name the client, with the client's consent.

4.2.3 Paragraph 4.2.1 shall not be construed as prohibiting the naming of a firm in the publicity of a client, or from being identified as the client's legal practitioner in the publicity of another person concerning the client's business, subject always to the Rules of the Law Society applicable from time to time.

4.3 Categories of work

4.3.1 Publicity about a firm's practice may only state or imply that it undertakes a particular category of work if that firm is in fact able and qualified to handle that work competently. In particular, a firm may not state that it undertakes conveyancing or notarial or patent, design or trade mark work unless the practicing member or one or more of the partners, or an employee exclusively in his / her / their employ has been admitted as a conveyancer or notary, or patent legal practitioner or patent or trade mark agent, as the case may be.

4.3.2 A firm may hold itself out as a specialist or expert in any branch of the law. A statement that a firm prefers to practise in any branch of the law shall be deemed not to be a claim by such firm to specialise in that preferred branch of the law. The Council may, by notice in writing to a firm, require that firm to cease to hold itself out as a specialist or expert in any branch of the law if the Council is of the opinion that the firm does not have the requisite expertise in that particular branch of the law.

Cautionary notes

4.3.2.1   Firms are advised that the standard of expertise, care and skill required by a firm holding itself out as a specialist or expert in a branch of law, must of necessity be higher than that of a firm which does not do so. Accordingly, a breach of the standard of expertise, care and skill required of a firm renders the firm more readily liable for damages for professional negligence in relation to the speciality than a firm which does not claim any speciality.

4.3.2.2   If a firm holds itself out as a specialist, the claim of speciality may render the legal practitioners who are partners or members of the firm liable to be disciplined for unprofessional, dishonourable or unworthy conduct, if the firm's action in so holding itself out is not justified.

4.3.2.3   Although a statement by a firm that it prefers to practise in a particular branch of the Law does not place that firm in the same category as one claiming to be a specialist, it may nevertheless indicate that a higher standard of care and skill will be required from such a firm than from one which does not hold itself out to have a preferred area of practice. A firm which expresses a preferred area of practice may, therefore, also render itself more readily liable to a claim for damages on the basis set out in 4.3.2.1 above.

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5. Statements as to charges

5.1 Clarity

5.1.1 Save for work not reserved for legal practitioners in terms of the Legal Practitioner's Act, 15 of 1995, no publicity shall contain a statement that specific kinds of work shall be undertaken for a specific charge.

5.1.2 Publicity may contain the basis on which work shall be charged for, but such publicity must be clearly expressed. It must be stated what services will be provided for that basis of charging. Any circumstances in which the basis may be altered must be stated. It must be clear whether disbursements and VAT are included.

5.2 Comparisons and criticisms of charges

Publicity may not compare a firm's charges with those of any other firm; neither may it criticise the charges of any other firm.

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6. Directory headings

In a directory or other listing which includes the services of persons other than legal practitioners, a firm's entry or advertisement may appear under a classification other than "legal practitioners" provided that:

6.1 the appearance under that classification is not misleading;

6.2 the firm is described in the entry or advertisement as a legal practitioner; and

6.3 the classification does not require a specific qualification which the legal practitioner does not have.

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7. Designation of a firm's practice

7.1 A firm's practice may be designated only as that of a legal practitioner(s). In addition the use of the designations "notary, "conveyancer", "patent attorney or agent", "trade-mark practitioner or agent", "administrator of estates", "appraiser", "sworn translator" and "estate agent", is permitted but only where at least one legal practitioner in the firm or an employee in the exclusive employment of the firm is entitled to be described as such;

7.2 It is permissible to cite the academic qualifications, conferred on a legal practitioner by a university, on stationary, brochures, internet and websites.

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8. Group advertising

It is permissible for independent firms to act together in a group to publicise their services under a group name or group logo. Any group advertising/publicity shall conform to the provisions of these guidelines.

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9. Professional announcements, advertisements for staff and the like

Any professional announcement, advertisement or marketing by a firm (including any advertisement in the De Rebus) must comply with the provisions of these guidelines.

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10. International aspects of publicity

No publicity for a firm may be conducted in a jurisdiction other than in areas which are subject to the jurisdiction of the Law Society of Namibia in any manner that would contravene either -

10.1 the provisions of these guidelines; or

10.2 any restrictions in force in that other jurisdiction concerning lawyers' publicity. For the purposes of this paragraph, publicity shall be deemed to be conducted in the jurisdiction in which it is received. However, publicity will not be regarded as being conducted in a jurisdiction in which that publicity would be improper if it is conducted for the purpose of reaching persons in a jurisdiction where that publicity is permitted and its reception in the former jurisdiction is incidental.

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11. Specific guidelines regarding marketing

11.1 Brochures, Internet and Websites

11.1.1 A firm may display in its reception area brochures containing details about the practice and the nature of the services offered. Such details and the nature of the services offered may also be made known on the internet and on websites. The brochure, internet and websites may not, however:

11.1.1.1 contain information which is false in any respect;

11.1.1.2 contain information which is misleading or deceptive or which is likely to mislead or deceive;

11.1.1.3 contain material which is vulgar, sensational, or otherwise is such as would bring or be likely to bring the firm or the legal profession into disrepute;

11.1.1.4 claim or imply superiority of the firm over any other legal practitioners;

11.1.1.5 contain any testimonials or endorsements concerning the firm, or refer to any of its clients by name or in any other manner which will make them identifiable.

11.1.2   Such brochures, internet and websites may also be sent or be made available to existing or former clients, except former clients whom the firm should reasonably know are not likely to return to it as clients. The brochures, internet and websites may include guidance on how clients can assist the firm to deal properly with its business, for example, by completing a questionnaire.

11.1.3   A prospective client who asks for information about the firm may be sent or given a brochure, internet and websites.

11.1.4   The brochure, internet and websites may contain an offer to give an estimate of charges in relation to any proposed mandate.

11.2 Radio and television broadcasts, conferences, seminars, lectures and articles in the lay press

The following principles apply to firms who take part in radio or television broadcasts, or who give talks or lectures to lay audiences, or who give interviews to the press, or who contribute articles to the lay press, on legal or non-legal subjects:

11.2.1   Consent of the Council

The consent of the Council is not required by a firm intending to take part in any of these activities. However, it is the responsibility of the firm that the respective legal practitioner is properly qualified to speak or write on the topic at issue, and that the presentation and/or the content of the speech/lecture/writing does not amount to touting.

11.2.2   Designations

Legal practitioners may be identified by name, by firm name (if desired) and by profession (if desired).

11.2.3   Generally in relation to broadcasts, lectures and press articles

A firm shall not be permitted to publish anything identifying or likely to identify clients for whom it acts or has acted unless in connection with a specific matter and then only if the client's prior written permission has been obtained.

11.3 Telephone / electronic directories, law directories and the yellow pages

11.3.1   It is permissible for a firm to insert its name in bold print in directories.

11.3.2   It is permissible for a firm to insert its name in a law directory or in the yellow pages and in so doing to indicate the kind of work which it undertakes or, in which it claims to have expertise (subject to the cautionary notes contained herein).

11.4 Information to clients regarding developments in the law

A firm may (and indeed is encouraged to) communicate with its clients either verbally or in writing to advise them of the latest developments in the law or in regard to a specified area of the law and to obtain instructions for professional business in relation to those developments, provided that:

11.4.1   the content and nature of any material, whether submitted, printed, spoken or otherwise, used by the firm in the course of the communication complies with these guidelines;

11.4.2   the form of the communication does not derogate from the dignity of the legal profession;

11.4.3   the communication does not involve undue influence, coercion, duress, harassment or nuisance.

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12. The legal practitioner's responsibility for publicity

It is the responsibility of a firm to ensure that all publicity, which is carried out by any other person on its behalf, complies with the provisions of these guidelines and such responsibility may not be delegated. Where a firm becomes aware of any impropriety in any publicity appearing on its behalf or concerning it, it shall forthwith do all such things and take all such steps as may be reasonable in the circumstances, to have the publicity rectified or withdrawn.

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13. General

13.1 The Council may by notice in writing to a firm -

13.1.1   order the alteration, withdrawal or discontinuance of an advertisement or publicity;

13.1.2   order the alteration or discontinuance of the use of statement in any advertisement, publicity or marketing material;

13.1.3   order the firm to discontinue its participation in any lectures, talks, public appearances or publications, if in its opinion any of these guidelines have been or are being contravened.
 

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