Can I use client contact details for mail-outs, newsletters and advertising materials?
Whether a solicitor or law practice can use a client’s contact details to provide a client with advertising or promotional material will depend on whether the client has consented to receipt of such information.
The solicitor-client retainer sets out the parameters within which specific legal services are to be provided to a client.
By agreeing to a retainer for the provision of legal services, a client does not sign up for promotional services and correspondence. These are prohibited by law and the SPAM Act 2003 (Cth).
If a written retainer (costs agreement) were to provide for a solicitor or law practice to use client contact details for the purposes of circulating news, promotions, legal updates or any other materials falling outside the scope of the agreed provision of legal services, the proposal should be both prominently worded (for example, in bold, differently-coloured font to the remainder of the retainer) and provide the client with a clear option to elect or decline to receive those materials which are neither relevant to, nor further the legal services for which they have engaged the solicitor or law practice in question. The client’s informed consent is required for advertising, marketing or promotional material (mail-outs/newsletters etc.) to be sent.
Further, where a client has agreed (after having provided informed consent) to receive such material or information, the solicitor or law practice must also comply with Rule 36 of the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012. Rule 36 requires that a solicitor or principal of a law practice must ensure that any advertising, marketing or promotion in connection with the solicitor or law practice is not:
- misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive;
- offensive; or
- prohibited by law.