Promoting Tourism

April 18th, 2016 by James Goudie KC

The Broads Authority (“the Authority”) has rebranded “the Broads” as the “Broads National Park”, in order to attract tourists. The Broads are not, however, a National Park under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (“the 1949 Act”).  Was the rebranding lawful?  Yes, held Holgate J in Harris v Broads Authority (2016) EWHC 799 (Admin).  He held that the adoption of a brand name for marketing purposes did not breach the 1949 Act.

Sections 144 and 265A of the Local Government Act 1972 (“the 1972 Act”) authorised the Authority to encourage persons, whether by advertisement or otherwise, to visit the Broads for recreation. It could therefore do anything incidental to the discharge of that function: Section 111(1) of the 1972 Act.  That included promoting the Broads in the UK or overseas.  That included adopting a brand name.  That was a separate matter from legal status. The 1949 Act had no legal monopoly over the use of the term “National Park” and did not prohibit its use outside the legislative scheme under the 1949 Act.

Nor did the branding have a misleading or confusing effect. A lawful name choice had been made.  The Authority had not sought to treat itself as a National Parks Authority.  Nor had it sought to treat the Broads as a National Park in the statutory sense; or to misrepresent the scope of its statutory functions.  There was no abuse of power.

In the context of branding or marketing, the term “National Park” uses ordinary language, and not a statutory concept, to evoke the nationally important qualities of the Broads and stimulate public enjoyment of, and potentially visits to, the Broads. The use of capital letters simply reflected that the Broads is a proper name. It did not alter the legal analysis.

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