Application to appeal to the Supreme Court concerning the Market Court's ruling on advertising supplements in newspaper Helsingin Sanomat
In June the Finnish Market Court issued a ruling according to which Helsingin Sanomat has a right and even an obligation to include advertising supplements in newspapers even when these are distributed to households that do not wish to receive direct advertising and have placed a "No advertising" sticker on their door. The Finnish Consumer Ombudsman has now applied for permission to appeal the Market Court's ruling to the Supreme Court.
The Consumer Ombudsman sought to obtain a preliminary ruling from the Market Court on whether advertising supplements can be included in newspapers that are delivered to consumers who expressly forbid direct advertising. Another objective was to determine whether a newspaper publisher can reserve the unconditional right to distribute unaddressed direct advertising to consumers in its contract terms.
The Market Court ruled that it was legal for a newspaper to distribute advertising supplements to households with a "No advertising" sticker and saw nothing wrong with a contract term that allowed this. The ruling noted that in subscribing to a paper a consumer has approved a contract term according to which Helsingin Sanomat can contain different kinds of commercial supplements.
It remained open whether advertising supplements contained in Helsingin Sanomat can be considered unaddressed direct marketing and whether the distribution of advertising supplements against a consumer's express will can be considered contrary to good practice or unfair marketing. The Consumer Protection Act does not specify exhaustively what types of marketing can be considered contrary to good practice or unfair since it is intended to cover constantly changing marketing in a flexible manner. Individual decisions and preliminary rulings are needed to amplify the Act.