The Foundation for Wildlife Protection (in Dutch: Stichting Faunabescherming) broadcasted a radio commercial with the text: ‘Poachers are hunters without a permit. Hunters are poachers with a permit.’ The Dutch Hunting Association (in Dutch: Jagersvereniging) filed a complaint about this with the Advertising Code Committee.

The Advertising Code Committee rejected the complaint and yesterday the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal confirmed that decision (both decisions can be accessed here). In a principled decision, the Tribunal held that what is at issue is an opinion-based proclamation of an idea in an advertisement, and that this is subject to broad freedom of expression. The Tribunal held that the Foundation for Wildlife Protection is allowed to express itself in a “catchy” way in its commercials, even if that is displeasing to the Hunting Association and may offend hunters given that freedom of expression makes allowance for this. In the opinion of the Tribunal, the limits of freedom of expression were not exceeded in this case.

Furthermore, no unfair commercial practices took place because, in the Tribunal’s view, the Foundation for Wildlife Protection does not qualify as a 'trader'. The fact that the Foundation for Wildlife Protection asks for donations for idealistic purposes does not mean that it carries out paid economic activities. As such, the Tribunal held that the rules in the Dutch Advertising Code on unfair commercial practices do not apply.

The Fauna Protection Society was represented in this case by Emiel Jurjens.

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