Can you sue brands for false advertising?

Can you sue brands for false advertising?

02 - 05 -19

The influence of advertisements on consumer choice is unassailable. In our everyday lives, we are constantly bombarded with misleading advertisements. Take for instance the fairness creams that not only outrage the dark-skinned people but hook them to a pyramid of false hopes that using such creams will make them fair instantly. Be it guaranteed “fairness in just four weeks” or “Be fair, be handsome”, no matter what product or brand, there are numerous misleading advertisements out there. But will the use of such creams really make you fair?

The misleading advertisement of health and nutrition related products or drugs can have serious repercussions for the consumers. These advertisements not only violate the consumer’s right to information but can also affect their lives to a degree. False promises, exaggerated results, not revealing important information are few examples of content that makes advertisement misleading.

Primitively, since there was no comprehensive legislation to regulate misleading advertisements, they were regulated by the courts, government, tribunals, and the matters were decided on the case to case basis. However, now the consumer can approach various forums for complaining and claiming relief for false and misleading advertisements under Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, Cable Television Network (Regulation)Act 1955, Food Safety and Standards Authority, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and Reserve Bank of India depending on the nature of goods for which unfair practices are being taken up.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has been established to crack its whip and bring companies to book that flout the rules. The duty of ASCI was to dispose of complaints based on its code of advertising practice

How to make a complaint before ASCI-

A complaint can be made in any of the following ways-

  1. Through a Letter addressed to The Secretary-General, the Advertising Standards Council of India, 219 Bombay Market, Tardeo, Mumbai 400 034;
  2. By sending an email at (asci@vsnl. com;;
  3. You can also register a complaint online at
  4. You can call ASCI on 022 23513982 or 022 23521066 or 1-800-22 –2724 (toll-free) to register a complaint.


Who can make a Complaint?


  1. General public including government officials, consumer groups,   etc.,
  2. Suo Moto complaints from the member of the ASCI Board, CCC, or the Secretariat and,
  3. Intra-industry i.e. complaints from one advertiser against another.


Complaint under Consumer Protection Act, 1986

Any consumer who has been a victim of a misleading advertisement can seek redressal against such unfair trade practices under the consumer protection act, 1986. He will be entitled to following reliefs-

  • Refund of money equivalent to the price
  • Compensation for any loss or injury suffered.
  • The opposite party may be ordered to issue corrective advertisement to neutralise the effect of the misleading advertisement;
  • The court can also award punitive damages and costs of litigation to the consumer.