Posted in Fairness Campaigns, For Relatives, For Solicitors

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Despite years of campaigning, client care remains at risk from copycat government websites – and nowhere is this more true than in the world of probate.


Anglia Research is proud to have petitioned the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Companies House and the Department for Business Innovation & Skills to close down websites that were pretending to be government-endorsed. These sites were selling birth certificates and other documents at inflated prices, and using the proscribed words ‘official’ or ‘GRO’ (General Register Office) in their website address. Even sophisticated consumers were misled into using them.

The process of closing the sites involved several years of persistent pressure, and already the culprits are re-emerging. 

Of course, it’s not just government websites that are copied, as the legal world knows only too well. Law firms also have their identities duplicated by unscrupulous rogues whose only motive is to deceive the consumer. Due diligence has never been more important.

Copy-cat Bona Vacantia websites

Anglia Research is currently collating details of websites that mimic the Bona Vacantia division of the Government Legal Department (formerly the Treasury Solicitor).

They can’t use the gov.uk address, of course, but they do use a Crown logo, and a colour scheme and other design tricks to give the appearance of a government website. They are not selling a product, but trying to obtain information from unsuspecting users. Site ownership has been either anonymous, thus breaching guidelines, or displayed in small print, leaving the ASA and Trading Standards to decide whether it’s clear enough that they are a commercial concern rather than a government agency.

In this modern world of gloss and puffery it’s good to know there are safe solutions. At Anglia Research we believe in being open and honest with our clients from the get-go. We trace missing beneficiaries and heirs worldwide, locate people and documents, confirm relationships, all without using misguided marketing techniques to attract custom.


Useful reading: Accreditation.


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