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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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1939 Cancer Act. If a UK resident places a prohibited advertisement

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1939 Cancer Act. If a UK resident places a prohibited advertisement in media outside the UK can he still be prosecuted under this act?
1. Dear *****, it is not the location of where the advertisement is placed which is important. The issue is whether the foreign based advertisement is visible to persons in the UK. This is because the place of the advertisement is not limited as to its location. It applies to an advertisement whereever placed, and not just in the UK. Where the words of a Statute are not limited as to their location, then they are given a general meaning. So placing an advertisement outside of the UK CAN be caught by the words of the Cancer Act, 1939. Be aware that there is the case of***** *****, who sold Triamazon via the Internet, received a two-year conditional discharge[10] with £350 costs in September 2008 - case brought by Trafford Trading StandardsHere is a link to a newspaper report
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The problem is when the act was passed in 1939 there was no Internet and now there are many effective alternative treatments being used all around the world especially in places like Singapore. So if my UK business partner sets up an informational website in Singapore about products supplied from overseas for research would I be implicated or would I have to ensure he uses a separate offshore company. It seems anyone can do this except a UK resident! I am aware of the case history involving trading standards departments but would they have jurisdiction over a foreign company website?
3. The bot***** *****ne is that so long as the website can be seen in the UK it should comply with the Cancer Act, 1939. That is the law. Essentially, it will only be if there are sales taking place in the UK that the issue becomes live. Obviously, if there is merely a website for informational purposes, then there is no pressing interest in initiating a criminal prosecution. However, if your UK business partner sets up an informational website in Singapore for products to be supplied from abroad to UK residents, then the 1939 Cancer Act has relevance and can be enforced. As I stated earlier, the Act is not limited by location to only advertisements within the UK. That limitation would be giving the Act a false interpretation. The Act gives jurisdiction over a foreign company website. Just consider it objectively, if the act was limited to ads solely within the UK, then it would not fulfill its legislative aim, which is to safeguard British consumers against false cancer information.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That doesnt actually fully answer my query. My point is that as far as I am aware, in law, a company is a separate legal entity the same as a natural person and if that company is not registered or resident in the UK doesnt this make the company outside the jurisdiction? Otherwise they could be prosecuting every single company on the Internet anywhere in the world who has at least one UK director and currently offering the suppressed but truthful and up to date information. i.e. I have just bought some ingredients for myself that have widely known about by independent researchers for decades as being effective therapy for cancer and is supported by scientific papers in the hundreds yet it was sent to me by a USA company advertising on eBay without any claims other than support of the immune system. Other websites that they link to actually have the supporting information but the 1939 cancer act does not even allow this.If one of the officers of this USA company proved to be English and jurisdiction is geographically unlimited this could cause a nightmare all around the world where freedom of expression in this subject is not controlled in this manner like it currently is in the UK. However, no claim about cancer was made by the seller but I am aware of the research from other international information websites who name the ingredient.My other point is that the intent of the proposed new company would be to refer the website visitors to a supplier in either the UK or Singapore (depending on the legality) so if it would not be legal or prudent would UK visitors to the website have to be told that the ingredient could not be supplied to them?I really need to clarify this point.
4. To deal with your second point first. This 1939 Act does not prohibit the sale of your product in the UK. It only prohibits advertising. Accordingly, so long as the website selling the product doesn't make claims that this product cures or treats cancer there will be no sanction suffered by any director of this company under the 1939 Act. It is perfectly legitimate to have another different website which makes the claims about the product such that you are advertising a cure for cancer. However, this second website should not have a UK director as it will fall foul of the 1939 Act.
5. In section 4 of the 1939 Act, the word "person" is used in prohibiting advertising of claims about the treatment and cure of cancer. The word "person" is interpreted in law to include a limited company. Accordingly, this provision allows the prosecution of the limited company, even if it is a foreign limited company. Additionally, the prosecution of the limited company allows the prosecution of its directors - under caselaw on this point - so the directors of the limited company can also be prosecuted.
6. Arguments that the company is a separate person to the directors simply won't wash. In 1939, the legislature were well aware that companies acted through their directors and the Act was designed with this in mind. So, any argument that the directors cannot be made liable because the company is a separate legal person just won't cut any ice.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry but I think I may not have explained myself properly.1. My partner is intending to operate from Singapore and he is not a UK resident or national.
2. According to the information you have given me I should separate any connection with him and the Singapore proposition.
3. The information you have given me suggests that in this case there is still no defence for him if he advertises on a website that by the very nature of websites is viewable by people all over the world including the UK. (I dont see how any action could be instituted against him in Singapore) The point being that even if you say supplying is not illegal it would still have to be offered and an offer is an advertisement.
4. The other point you didnt answer was my question abut third party links.The products are supplements and will have no claims made about them curing cancer directly (or any medical claims) but will have links to genuine medical and scientific research documents such as PubMed etc. which do suggest scientific findings to benefit cancer sufferers, The usual disclaimers will be included on the main website. The interpretation I have seen of the act suggests that even third party links such as these still contravene the act as indirect claims linked to the advertisement media.I am aware that many people worldwide are now breaking the law even though they offer genuine products with decades of research. There is a new paradigm of science underway and while many people expect the law to change we dont want to get caught out by breaking the outdated laws in the meantime. The UK is one of the few jurisdictions where such a restrictive law operates against genuine altruistic people offering genuine natural and low cost products but I cant believe that there isnt a way of operating outside of the UK jurisdiction as I seem to think you are implying.My question was posed initially to protect my current association but from what you have told me I am now concerned about my overseas friend.
7. You have got the wrong end of the stick so far as what I have said to you. Firstly, there is nothing wrong with selling cancer treatment products from Singapore into the UK. Supply without advertising cancer treatment properties is lawful. Secondly, I don't know where you got the idea that indirect advertising by third party links is unlawful. Whoever told you this is just attempting to put the wind up you! You cannot be held criminally liable for the actions of others. Third party links which advertise the healing properties of your product are perfectly lawful. You are not providing this advertising and you cannot be held liable.
8. You can be a director of a company that sells these products, so long as the website which sells it doesn't contain advertisement of the cancer healing properties. An offer is not an advertisement. They are two different things in law and a sharp distinction is drawn in contract law between an advertisement, which is an invitation to treat and an offer which is a precursor to a binding contract.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I had to go away on business unexpectedly so please excuse the delay in getting back to you.Thank you for your clarifications but I am having a problem getting my head around the concept, according to your interpretation, that UK authorities would be able to prosecute anybody of any nationality anywhere in the world because the simple fact is that a website can be viewed by anyone in the UK.With regard to sales in the UK delivered from Singapore it is obviously necessary to make a disclaimer not offer to treat, diagnose or cure etc etc as is normal these days especially for USA buyers. There are other laws besides the 1939 Cancer Act that have to be complied with not just in the UK but also worldwide when supply is considered.However, my concern with this question was about the 1939 Cancer Act
which was initially devised not to protect the public but to protect the Radium industry.It is now well accepted by researchers that Trading Standards authorities have been prosecuting well intentioned altruistic individuals offering advanced but effective treatments who are upsetting vested interests and this can be attested to by hundreds of books, videos and scientific papers. A leading medical doctor and scientist called Dr Rath of the Rath Foundation even lodged a prosection paper against leading politicians and Pharmaceutical industry interests in 2004/2005 for the unnecessary deaths of millions of people for the suppression of truth in this area of cutting edge science.All I have been attempting to elicit from you is an answer or suggestion as how the proposed new website can honestly tell the truth of this story whilst pointing to a supply of a natural supplement that has been known about since the 1950's with ample proof of efficacy to potentially save millions of lives. The proofs referred to are what the regulatory authorities classify as anecdotal evidence because
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
although the "anecdotal" evidence is in abundance and has included clinical trials of a limited nature nobody has ever invested the millions of pounds/dollars into full stage 4 clinical trials required by the current "system" designed to protect the profits of Big Pharma.Sorry for this long but honest tirade but I would welcome any further advice you can give to assist what is a new small business with limited funds but which has a genuine altruistic intention.Otherwise, I am happy to close this issue now with a favourable report on your assistance so far.
9. Dear *****, I appreciate the large scale vested interests that are at work in this area and which prevent well-intentioned altruistic individuals, such as yourself, from truly helping the population at large. However, the solution I would propose is that you have a different website to the one selling the product which contains any product statement or advertisement about its properties. Linking does not give rise to liability. However, a lot of what you state is driven by the lack of political will to change the law in this area. Accordingly, I would suggest you speak with your local MP to see if the law can be changed and this out dated and protectionist piece of legislation repealed. Ultimately, that is the solution here.
10. I would greatly appreciate it is you would Rate the Answer.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.