Advertising and the law

On this page:

  • Advertising requirements of the National Law
  • Penalties and other consequences for breaching the advertising requirements
  • Other legislation which may apply when advertising a regulated health service

Advertising requirements of the National Law

Section 133 of the National Law states that a person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that – 

  • is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive
  • offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer 
  • uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business 
  • creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, or
  • directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services. 

The Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service further explain the advertising requirements of the National Law. 

Penalties and other consequences for breaching the advertising requirements

Advertising breaches of the National Law may be prosecuted, and a court may order advertisers to pay a penalty for each offence which breaches the National Law. The financial penalties are for:

  • an individual (e.g. a registered health practitioner) a maximum penalty of $5,000 per offence 
  • a body corporate a maximum penalty of $10,000 per offence.

If an advertising breach involves unlawful use of a protected title (see Appendix 2 of the guidelines) this is also an offence under the National Law for which penalties can apply.1 The maximum penalties are for:

  • an individual, financial penalty of up to $60,000 per offence, imprisonment for up to three years per offence or both
  • a body corporate a financial penalty of up to $120,000 per offence.

Other consequences may apply when a registered health practitioner breaches the advertising requirements of the National Law or breaches other applicable legislation. A National Board may decide these breaches raise concern about the practitioner’s conduct and take action which may include placing conditions on a health practitioner’s registration. 

Check advertising complaints for more information about how National Boards and Ahpra manage complaints about advertising. 

Other legislation which may apply when advertising a regulated health service

In addition to meeting the advertising requirements of the National Law, advertisers must comply with other applicable legislation.  For more information, check:

National Boards enforce the National Law. They do not enforce the legislation of other government departments or agencies, such as therapeutic goods legislation or drugs and poisons legislation. However, a breach of other legislation may form the basis for disciplinary action under the National Law. 


1. In Western Australia different penalties apply. In the case of an individual the maximum penalty is $30,000, or in the case of a body corporate $60,000.

 
 
Page reviewed 9/02/2021