The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has welcomed Government plans to extend its enforcement powers regarding nuisance marketing calls.

In late May 2018, the Government commenced a consultation into proposals for a new law that will result in directors being fined up to £500,000 should their companies make nuisance calls.

The ICO has noted that, of the £17.8 million in nuisance call fines it has issued since 2010, almost half (46%) of this amount has not been recovered. This is largely because some companies respond to a fine from the ICO by putting themselves into voluntary liquidation to avoid paying. However, in these circumstances, there is nothing to stop the company directors starting a new business under a different name, and possibly starting to make nuisance calls once again.

For example, the company that was fined £400,000 by the ICO for making almost 100 million nuisance calls was one of those that entered voluntary liquidation.

Hence this new law will allow the ICO to impose fines of up to £500,000 on individual company directors. It will be able to impose multiple fines where there is more than one director, and it will still have the power to fine the company itself, so the total penalty against the company and its directors could be significant.

The consultation closes in August 2018.

Steve Wood, Deputy Commissioner (Policy) at the ICO, said:

”We welcome these proposals from the Government to make directors themselves responsible for nuisance marketing. We have been calling for a change to the law for a while to deter those who deliberately set out to disrupt people with troublesome calls, texts and emails. These proposed changes will increase the tools we have to protect the public.”

Introducing the proposed new legislation, Margot James MP, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said:

Nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out.

“For too long a minority of company directors have escaped justice by liquidating their firms and opening up again under a different name.

“We want to make sure the Information Commissioner has the powers she needs to hold rogue bosses to account and put an end to these unwanted calls.”

John Mitchison, director of policy and compliance at the Direct Marketing Association, said:

“It should come as no surprise that individuals willing to skirt the law when it suits them are also ready to do the same to avoid paying their debts.

“The introduction of these new laws would target the individuals profiting from these rogue businesses, making them think twice about breaking the law if there is a real threat that they may be personally liable.”

Live marketing calls can only be made to individuals who have registered with the Telephone Preference Service. Automated marketing calls can only be made to individuals who have expressly consented in advance to receiving communications of this nature.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article