Q: Unwanted publicity
An entertainment agency I no longer use continues to advertise my act on its website and ignores my written request that it should stop. What can I do?
A: The mere fact, as you say, you "no longer use" the agency does not of itself presuppose that the agency has no continuing contractual rights. Therefore, the first thing to do is to check the contractual arrangements which you made with the agency originally. There may have been a formal agreement, or an agreement in correspondence (perhaps incorporating standard business terms) or possibly it was merely done by word of mouth. One way or another you need to check that there was no agreement, express or implied, for a fixed term which has not yet expired or for a fixed period of notice of termination which has not been given and that there was no agreement that so long as the agency subsisted the agent would be entitled to advertise your act on its website.
Assuming the absence of any contractual right of the agency to continue advertising your act, you or your solicitor should give the agency formal written notice, referring to your previous written requests and repeating that it is no longer authorised to continue to advertise your act on its website and, if there is any doubt as to the termination of the agency, confirming that it is no longer authorised to represent you. You should send the notice by post and confirm it by fax and by email in order to preclude any future allegation of non-receipt by the agency.
If your notice is still ignored then I do wonder whether you have any objection to free advertising of your act on the website, since it can hardly cause you any damage. However, if you are unhappy about this, then I suggest you complain either to the Office of Fair Trading or to the Advertising Standards Authority or possibly both. The OFT has more power but the ASA is more focused on advertising malpractice. Alternatively, if the agency is a member of a representative body such as the AA or NEAC or PMA, a complaint to that representative body may achieve the desired result.
In the final analysis you could apply to the Court for an injunction to restrain repetition of the advertisement but that seems somewhat heavy-handed in the circumstances and could be counterproductive in terms of legal costs. Perhaps in the first instance a telephone call to the agent might be best because, if the agency has been terminated, there is no benefit to the agent in continuing to advertise your act and it may be that this is due to some oversight or misunderstanding which can be easily rectified. At any rate a telephone call to the head of the agency should enable you to ascertain whether or not the agency claims a legal right to continue in the face of your objection and, if so, on what basis.
First published April 2003