Today: telemarketer director liability law comes into force | DMA

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Today: telemarketer director liability law comes into force


After extensive consultation starting in 2016, the ICO announced measures to make directors personally liable for breaches in telemarketing laws. As of the today, this law will come into force.

Previously when companies have been caught, the business entity is issues with fines and penalties rather than any individual. To get around these fines, the companies can declare bankruptcy and avoid the fine. Last year, just over half of the total fines for nuisance calls were recovered. Now, the government want to ensure they can hold those to account properly. Now, when careless cold-callers are caught, owners and directors could face fines of up to £500,000.

Minister for Digital Margot James said:

“There is now no hiding place for the small minority of rogue directors who have previously tried to escape justice. We are determined to stamp this menace out and this new law is the latest in a series of measures to rid society of the plague of nuisance calls.

“Estimates by Ofcom show British consumers were bombarded with 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year. Previously it was only the businesses themselves that were liable for fines of up to £500,000 rather than individuals. Some directors escaped paying by declaring bankruptcy only to open up again under a different name. Now the ICO can hold company directors directly responsible with further fines of up to half a million pounds.

The DMA’s Director of Policy and Compliance, John Mitchison said:

“The DMA warmly welcomes these new changes to PECR. The credibility of responsible telemarketers has forever been tarnished by rogue companies breaking the law and making nuisance calls. Ultimately, the decision to ignore the law and make nuisance calls is made by individuals and it is right that they are held responsible for that decision. These changes to PECR are a welcome step in allowing the ICO to better regulate the telemarketing industry and hold rogue traders to account. They should both deter individuals from engaging in illegal activity and allow the ICO to recover fines with greater ease.

The DMA has championed this issue from the beginning, having created the Telephone Preference System (TPS), which performs the official role of recording and referring nuisance call-makers to law enforcement officers. This new change will strengthen the hand of the consumers, who can be more confident that their reporting of a nuisance call to the TPS could result in considerable consequences for the telemarketing law-breaker. Above all, the changes will mean fewer nuisance calls are made to consumers which is, of course, the thing that really matters.”

An explanatory note to the legislation explains "The effect of the amendments made … is to enable the [information] commissioner to impose such a penalty on an officer of a body corporate or Scottish partnership in addition to the body itself, where such a breach occurs as a result of action, or inaction, by that officer."

The DMA runs the Telephone Preference Service, which blocks nuisance calls. Any nuisance calls received while you are registered on the TPS are illegal. You can register with the TPS here.

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