31Oct

FCA updates situation on mortgage and PPI mis-selling by failed intermediary

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has provided an update for customers of a former mortgage and insurance intermediary which remains authorised by the FCA but is no longer trading. The firm in question is now in negotiations with insolvency practitioners.

The FCA previously instructed the Altrincham-based firm to conduct a customer contact and redress programme, after it was found that a number of its customers received unsuitable mortgage advice. The firm is also said to have mis-sold payment protection insurance in a number of cases.

Although the FCA says it is consulting with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) over the matter, the regulator now advises customers with complaints against the firm to contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), and not to go to the FOS at the present time, seemingly a recognition of the fact that the firm will no longer be able to settle claims made against it.

In the first half of 2018, 50 complaints were made about the firm, the second highest for a non-lender firm in the mortgage sector. The firm’s uphold rate during this period was as high as 95%.

In May 2017, the FCA announced a redress scheme was to be launched, after it became concerned about the firm’s sale of debt consolidation mortgages. The extent of the detriment suffered by clients could have been significant, as the programme covers sales made over a period of seven-and-a-half years, from January 2007 to July 2014.

Specifically, the regulator’s intervention concerns the sale of debt consolidation mortgage. The firm was asked to write to every client who took out such a mortgage during the period between 2007 and 2014 and inform them that they may not have received suitable advice.

In particular, the letters highlighted that the firm may have neglected to consider:

  1. Whether the client should instead have entered into a debt management or insolvency arrangement to try and solve their debt problems
  2. Whether it was appropriate to convert previously unsecured debt into secured debt, thus increasing the potential risks to the client of failing to maintain repayments
  3. The costs involved with extending the term over which the debt was to be repaid.

Although debt consolidation may reduce the amount being repaid each month, a mortgage typically has a much longer repayment term than other forms of borrowing. Clients may have as a result ended up paying a great deal in additional repayments once all monthly payments over 25 years or so are added up.

This case illustrates the importance of giving suitable advice to clients, and the importance of having a rigorous compliance monitoring programme in place so that unsuitable advice is identified at point-of-sale, ideally before any products are taken out.

It also demonstrates that consolidation of debt should not be considered as a one-size-fits-all solution to a customer’s debt problems. The risks of securing previously unsecured debt, and the fact that consolidation may result in more needing to be repaid over a longer term are just some of the reasons why this strategy may not be suitable. Sometimes, receiving professional debt advice may be preferable to consolidating.

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

30Oct

Dear CEO letter sent to payday lenders, asking them to consider whether they need to pay compensation to customers

‘Dear CEO’ letters sent by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) often instruct firms to review their business practices and make any necessary changes. However, the recent letter to the chiefs of the UK’s high cost short-term lenders goes one step further and asks firms to “consider whether proactive redress may be required”, i.e. whether compensation should be paid to its clients. The central requirement of the letter though is for CEOs to “assess their lending activity to determine whether creditworthiness assessments are compliant.”

Few people within the payday sector need any reminder that the sector’s largest player has recently entered administration, partly because it was unable to cope with the sums it needed to pay in redress to disadvantaged customers. With this in mind, the letter also asks the recipients to “inform the FCA if they are unable (now or in the future) to meet their financial commitments because of any remediation costs.”

The letter, from Jonathan Davidson, the Director of Supervision – Retail and Authorisations at the FCA, says that it is being sent because of “the increase in complaints about unaffordable lending (including complaints about a ‘chain’ of loans over an extended period)”. Few in the payday sector also need any reminder that complaint volumes have soared in recent months and years. According to figures from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), payday loans are now the second most complained about area, making up 10% of the total complaints received between April and June 2018. The uphold rate for payday loan complaints closed during this period was 56%, one of the highest for all product areas.

The letter asks firms to look at the recently published decisions on the FOS website, and to use these in deciding whether to uphold the complaints they receive. Firms are also asked to make provision for any remediation they may need to repay.

Compensation is often paid to customers when their complaints are upheld. However, this letter suggests that lenders may need to go further, and to pay compensation to certain customers who haven’t complained if it is identified that they may have suffered detriment. Here the letter reads:

“Where firms identify recurring or systemic problems in their provision of a financial service, which could include problems in relation to the carrying out of affordability assessments, the firms should ascertain the scope and severity of the consumer detriment that might have arisen, and consider whether it is fair and reasonable for the firm to proactively undertake a redress or remediation exercise, which may include contacting customers who have not complained.”

The letter concludes by stating some of the FCA’s rules on affordability assessments, including:

“A firm must not make a loan unless it can demonstrate that it has, before doing so, undertaken a compliant creditworthiness assessment and had proper regard to the outcome of that assessment in making a judgement about affordability risk.”

“The lender must consider the customer’s ability to make repayments out of income: • without the customer having to borrow to meet the repayments • without failing to make any other payment the customer has a contractual or statutory obligation to make, and • without the repayments having a significant adverse impact on the customer’s financial situation.”

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

29Oct

FCA chief speaks on ‘trust and ethics’

Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), recently spoke on the subject of ‘trust and ethics’ when he attended the launch of the St Mary’s University School of Business and Society in London.

Mr Bailey began by commenting that trust and ethics was “by no means a subject unique to the world of financial services”. However, few people need reminding that the topic has particular relevance to the financial world, as we remember the financial crisis of 10 years ago, not to mention some of the conduct issues that have emerged both before and since 2008.

The FCA chief commented that “trustworthiness demands two things: knowledge and skill; and good intentions and honesty. One of these is more technical in nature, the other more moral and ethical.”

Many financial services practitioners need to pass examinations in order to carry out their role. In addition, everyone within the industry, from CEOs to junior administrators, needs to have some degree of knowledge of the environment within which their firm operates. However, the “good intentions and honesty” part of the trustworthiness definition is perhaps harder to judge. Financial services practitioners, especially senior management, need to demonstrate on an ongoing basis that they are ‘fit and proper’ to carry out their role; and an FCA-compliant fit and proper assessment covers financial soundness and personal integrity, in addition to competence and capability.

On this issue, Mr Bailey added:

“I can put an exam certificate on the wall for all to see, but trust depends on solving the conundrum that there isn’t an independent source to prove honesty and good intent.”

Next, he highlighted the changes of the 1980s as being of particular relevance to his narrative, and he described “a rapid increase in senior executive pay as the limits of the previous social norm were replaced by an approach which used remuneration to incentivise performance.”

However, whether they are senior executives or not, many people within financial services have financial incentives to act in a particular manner, for example salespeople and advisers who receive bonuses dependent on their sales volumes. Wherever a firm’s remuneration system has the potential to encourage staff to act contrary to the interests of customers, then the firm must have robust systems in place to manage and mitigate these risks.

Mr Bailey then directly addressed the subject of the 2008 financial crisis, suggesting that regulators have had to learn from the experience and change the way they operate as a result. Here, the FCA chief commented:

“There is little doubt in my mind that prior to the financial crisis, the culture towards the public interest and ethical custom were essentially permissive, to the point of anything goes. In financial services, it was evident in the advocacy of light touch regulation, the view that left to themselves firms would succeed; and to paraphrase, just as a rising tide lifts all boats, so the whole public interest would benefit. It didn’t work out that way, and in the wake of the crisis we have had to change the approach to regulation in the public interest.”

In conclusion, he referred to regulators having adopted “a shift of emphasis towards individuals.” He added that the FCA’s Senior Managers and Certification Regime included ”two very clear concepts, responsibility and accountability”, and said that “these principles are at the heart of rebuilding trust.”

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

28Oct

CMC regulation law consultation ends

The Government has provided an update on the secondary legislation process that will enable the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to commence regulating the claims management sector from April 1 2019. The primary legislation enabling the regulatory switchover passed into law in May 2018.

For the first time, claims management companies (CMCs) in Scotland will be subject to statutory regulation – the previous Ministry of Justice (MoJ) regime covered only England and Wales. CMCs in Northern Ireland will remain outside FCA regulation, unless they represent clients based in England, Scotland or Wales.

At present, CMCs need to be authorised if they provide services in relation to claims in the following sectors:

  • Personal injury
  • Financial products and services
  • Employment
  • Criminal injuries compensation
  • Industrial injuries disablement benefit
  • Housing disrepair

The following claims services are all subject to regulation under the existing regime:

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Giving advice on claims
  • Referring and introducing potential claimants to another party
  • Investigating the merits of a claim
  • Representing in any way a client who is making a claim

The new legislation will not significantly extend the scope of regulation – the activities for which authorisation will be required will be much the same, it will be just the regulatory regime and the rules and requirements to which CMCs are subject that will be stricter.

One change however will see the creation of seven separate permissions, and each CMC will need to apply for the permission or permissions relevant to their business activity. These proposed permissions are:

  • Seeking out, referring and identifying claims in any sector
  • Advising, investigating and/or representing in relation to:
  • Personal injury
  • Financial services and products
  • Employment
  • Criminal injuries
  • Industrial injuries disablement benefit
  • Housing disrepair

CMCs must demonstrate to the FCA, when making their application for authorisation, that they have the competence to hold the relevant permissions. Before applying for full authorisation, the first step for any CMC wishing to continue to trade after April 1 is to apply for temporary permission. Although at this stage applicant companies will not be asked to demonstrate their competence in depth, the FCA will still expect them to comply with all of its rules with effect from April 1, and to pay the required authorisation fees. The temporary permissions regime is open to CMCs based in Scotland, as well as to all of those in England and Wales who are regulated by the MoJ come March 31.

Each CMC that obtains temporary permission will then be given a designated time period during which they must submit their application for full authorisation. It is at this stage that CMCs, and individual members of their senior management, will need to demonstrate that they are competent and are fit and proper to carry out their roles.

The Government proposes that legal practitioners, most charities, trade unions and student unions remain exempt from FCA regulation – they are exempt from MoJ regulation at present.

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

24Oct

FCA outlines requirements for SM&CR responsibility statements

One of the key ideas of the Senior Managers Regime will be the ability of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to hold senior managers responsible for compliance failings within their area of responsibility. The new rules, to be introduced when the Regime comes into effect across financial services on December 9 2019, will require all designated Senior Managers to have a documented Statement of Responsibilities (SoR).

The FCA says that:

“The purpose of a SoR is to make clear what a Senior Manager is responsible and accountable for, under the ultimate accountability of a firm’s governing body.”

“It should be clear and easy for regulators, the Senior Manager and others in the firm to understand it. The SoR should contain enough information to clearly describe the Senior Manager’s actual responsibilities and accountabilities, but without unnecessary detail. A SoR needs to be self-contained and not refer to other documents.”

The regulator also clearly sets out what an SoR isn’t, and what it should not contain:

“A SoR is not the same as a job profile, so it should not describe the competencies and skills required for the role or how the responsibilities should be discharged. It should focus on what the role holder is accountable for.”

A good starting point when a firm draws up an SoR for one of their senior managers is to list the business functions and activities for which they are responsible, such as sales, customer service, complaints, information technology, marketing, risk management, training, protection etc.

New strategic initiatives, business transformation programmes or mergers are examples of less common things that managers might be responsible for, but these are still significant responsibilities, and should still be included in their Statement where applicable.

The FCA’s guidance consultation on SORs suggests the following text for a manager who controls the advice and customer service functions in a mortgage advisory firm, and who is also involved in a special project:

  • Mortgage sales and advice – Responsible for all aspects of mortgage advice and sales apart from mortgages on commercial properties.
  • Customer service – Responsible for providing services to existing mortgage customers, including responses to queries and processing alterations to existing mortgages, liaising with providers as necessary. This includes mortgages on commercial properties
  • Business upgrade – Responsible for the business change programme ‘Cosmos’; Cosmos is a project up-scaling our Mortgage Unit, ending in August 2020.

Firms meeting the definition of an Enhanced firm also need to have a Responsibilities Map under the requirements of the Regime. These need to contain key information about the firm’s governance bodies, senior management reporting lines and Senior Managers’ responsibilities. Enhanced firms are those meeting any of the following criteria:

  • Assets Under Management of £50 billion or more at any time in the last three years
  • Total intermediary regulated business revenue of £35 million or more per annum
  • Annual regulated revenue generated by consumer credit lending of £100 million or more per annum
  • A mortgage lender (other than a bank) with 10,000 or more regulated mortgages outstanding

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

23Oct

Bank apologises for giving incorrect information to PPI claimants and their CMCs

One of the ‘Big Four’ UK banking groups has admitted that “tens of thousands” of customers, comprising 0.6% of the bank’s payment protection insurance (PPI) policyholders, were incorrectly told they had never had PPI with the bank. The number of affected customers also comprises 1.1% of those who have complained to the bank about PPI via a CMC.

The bank developed a checking tool back in 2012 that claims management companies (CMCs) could use to make bulk requests regarding whether up to 50 of the CMC’s customers had taken out PPI policies. However, a system error meant that these requests were not being checked against all of the bank’s internal records.

The issue was compounded by the fact that all of the major banks sold PPI to large numbers of customers without their knowledge, meaning that millions of consumers have been forced to check whether they ever had the insurance.

A spokesman for the bank said:

“99.4 per cent of [name of bank] customers making a PPI enquiry have received the correct decision.”

“We identified through our own review that a very small percentage of customers were given the wrong information when they contacted [name of bank] via a claims management company to find out whether they had ever held a PPI policy on their account.

“Customers do not need to take any action.

“We are proactively contacting everyone who has been impacted and we will be registering a new complaint on their behalf to put things right as soon as possible.”

Stephen Pearce from Powys told the BBC that he was initially told by the bank in a telephone call that he had never had PPI. Mr Pearce then used the services of a CMC, who duly made a bulk request through the bank’s faulty system. After this second request he was again told he had never had PPI. Only after his CMC complained, the bank finally confirmed in writing that he had indeed had PPI on a credit card. The bank then admitted mis-selling the insurance and paid Mr Pearce £3,991.52 in compensation.

The £40 billion PPI mis-selling scandal is now entering its final phase. Apart from a few very limited exceptions – such as PPI sold after the deadline, or complaints about claims handling and administration – it will not be possible to make a PPI complaint after August 29 2019.

Complaint volumes have been increasing slowly and steadily in recent months as the deadline approaches, and the Financial Conduct Authority has re-started its Arnold Schwarzenegger-fronted advertising campaign, which is designed to make sure that every potential remaining PPI claimant submits their complaint prior to the deadline.

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

 

 

 

 

 

22Oct

FCA consults on Brexit plans

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published two consultation papers on the subject of its preparations for Brexit, including its preparations for the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The two papers concern amendments to Binding Technical Standards (BTS), and the Temporary Permissions Regime.

Regarding the first of these, the FCA notes that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will provide for the conversion of EU law into UK law, whilst also giving the UK Government the power to amend the wording of these laws so that they make sense in a UK-only context. The FCA intends to adopt a similar approach with its Handbook, and recognises that changes need to be made to the wording here, such as removing references to EU institutions such as the European Commission or the European Supervisory Authorities.

The Temporary Permissions Regime will allow firms based in EU and European Economic Area (EEA) states to continue to carry on regulated business in the UK for a limited period after Brexit. This Regime is intended to take effect if the UK ends up leaving the EU without any form of implementation period in place.

Under the Regime, European firms that currently operate in the UK using the ‘passporting’ system can continue to do so for a limited time after Brexit, before needing to apply for full FCA authorisation. There is currently no reciprocal agreement for UK firms who operate in the EEA. It is to be hoped the situation can be resolved, but at present it is the case that any UK firm that operates in European countries via the passporting system will lose their authorisation to do so on Brexit day (March 29).

Temporary permissions will last for up to three years, unless the firm is asked to submit an application for full FCA authorisation prior to this.

Any firm requiring a temporary permission will firstly need to inform the FCA, via the Connect system, that they require one. The notification ‘window’ for this purpose is expected to open in early 2019. Then, following exit day, the FCA will allocate each firm a three-month application period or ‘landing slot’ during which it will need to submit its application for full authorisation in the UK.

If a firm with a temporary permission wishes to conduct additional regulatory activities, it will need to apply for these when it applies for its full authorisation in the UK.

During their temporary permissions period, firms will need to apply with all relevant FCA rules. It is also anticipated that they will be subject to the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Responses to the two consultations are invited up until December 7 2018.

Nausicaa Delfas, Executive Director of International at the FCA said:

”The FCA is planning to be ready for a range of scenarios. Today we are publishing two consultation papers to ensure that in the event the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without an implementation period, we have a robust regulatory regime from day one, and to ensure a smooth transition for EEA firms and funds currently passporting into the UK.

”This is consistent with our aim to provide certainty and confidence for firms operating in the UK. We welcome engagement from across the sector, as we continue with our preparations for Brexit.”

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

19Oct

FCA writes Dear CEO letter to debt packagers after finding issues of serious concern

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has written to the CEO or equivalent of all authorised debt packaging firms, saying it has conducted a review of the advice being provided by a sample of firms in this sector. The letter opens by saying the regulator is “very concerned about the poor standards we have seen”, and that some firms may be subject to investigation by the Enforcement Division as a result.

The letter lists as many as four areas that the FCA is concerned about:

  • The quality of advice being given by debt packaging firms
  • The way in which these firms identify vulnerable customers, and then how they treat them once they have identified them
  • The quality of their financial promotions
  • Their systems and controls in general

For the avoidance of doubt, the letter clarifies that the definition it is using of a debt packaging firm is one that:

  • Gathers information from customers
  • Provides advice on the debt solutions available to these customers
  • Recommends a specific debt solution
  • Refers the customer to a third-party provider, and receives a referral fee from the third-party provider which differs according to the solution recommended

One specific concern the FCA has of debt packagers is that they often receive higher fees for recommending a specific debt solution, such as an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), in comparison to other debt solutions. This could of course create a conflict of interest for advisory staff, who may have an incentive to recommend something other than the best course of action for their customer.

The letter notes that CEOs have specific responsibility for managing potential conduct risks within their firms.

The letter warns firms to ensure that:

  • They fully assess customers’ circumstances and ensure that the advice provided is based on these individual circumstances, and is appropriate
  • Staff have the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to provide advice
  • Vulnerable customers are identified and receive appropriate support throughout their customer journey
  • Financial promotions and other customer communications meet the principle 7 requirement to be ‘clear, fair and not misleading’, and that these communications prominently signpost customers to the Money Advice Service (MAS) where required
  • They maintain appropriate systems and controls in relation to all of the issues highlighted in the letter

Unlike some of its Dear CEO letters, the FCA is not asking all recipients to reply with details of how they are complying with the relevant rules. However, the letter concludes by warning that:

“Failure to comply with our regulatory requirements could lead to our taking enforcement action and, potentially, to a suspension or removal of a firm’s permissions.”

This means that no firm in the debt packaging sector can afford to ignore the FCA’s concerns, and that they now need to review their arrangements relating to advice, vulnerable customers, financial promotions and systems and controls. Where necessary, firms need to make urgent amendments to ensure they meet their regulatory requirements, and any firm unsure as to what they need to do to satisfy the regulator is advised to get in touch with their compliance consultant as a matter of urgency.

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

18Oct

FCA chair warns that Brexit will not reduce financial services regulation

Many of those who supported a Leave vote in the Brexit referendum often speak about the bureaucracy of the European Union and argue that once the UK has left the bloc, businesses will flourish as they become free from the shackles of Brussels red tape.

However, any financial services firm hoping to see a reduction in their regulatory burden post-Brexit may be disappointed, if the recent comments of the Chair of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are anything to go by.

Addressing the Association for Financial Markets in Europe Annual Conference in early October 2018, Charles Randell suggested that his organisation would continue to co-operate with international authorities on common standards of regulation.

Mr Randell commented:

“The FCA does not see the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union as an opportunity to join a race to the bottom in regulatory standards – quite the contrary. We will need to redouble our engagement with our policymaking and regulatory colleagues in Europe and across the world, to continue to influence global standards of financial regulation.”

Ten years after the global financial crisis, the FCA chair also cautioned against any temptation to impose lighter regulation. In his speech, he referred repeatedly to the cycle of deregulation, crisis and regulation, and summed up this concept by saying:

“After each crisis, we bring in a weight of new regulation. We push it up the hill to implementation. And then we deregulate. And then a new crisis starts the process all over again. Are we condemned to repeat this for eternity, or can we break the cycle?”

Mr Randell added that the consumer credit market was one where additional regulation became necessary following an event that led to widespread consumer detriment. Here, noting that a previous cap on interest charges was repealed as far back as 1974, he commented:

“The rise of a group of payday lenders combining slick advertising with loose affordability criteria and excessive interest rates led to widespread consumer harm and the eventual re-imposition of a cap in 2015.”

He also said that when evidence of consumer harm is identified, it does not necessarily mean that new rules need to be introduced, and that it may suffice for the regulator to instead increase supervision of whether existing rules are being followed by firms, and to take enforcement action against those who are failing to comply; alternatively evidence of poor consumer outcomes could prompt the FCA to use its competition powers.

In conclusion, Mr Randell said of the FCA:

“We remain committed to high standards of regulation in the UK and to contributing to high global standards. Consumers and businesses need high quality, stable and predictable regulation.”

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

17Oct

ICO fines firm that made abusive and unsolicited calls regarding accident claims, and another that sent unsolicited emails

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined two more firms over their marketing practices.

A Manchester-based firm has been fined £150,000 after it made 63,724 marketing calls between May and July 2017 to individuals who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The firm appeared to be fully aware that telephoning these consumers without their explicit consent was illegal, with at least one complainant to the ICO reporting that the firm said they acknowledged that they were speaking to a TPS member but were calling anyway.

The complainants also alleged that:

  • The callers were abusive – one said that the firm used profane language when hanging up, and another used personally insulting language when the caller suggested they would complain about the call
  • The firm would sometimes call the same number just half an hour later
  • The firm said the recipient had only three options: to make a false injury claim with the firm, to change their phone number, or to continue receiving marketing calls; i.e. the firm was not offering a fourth option to opt out of marketing calls

The firm, which was inviting people to pursue accident claims, was described by the ICO as one of the most complained about firms during June 2017.

The firm also failed to respond to initial requests for information to assist the data protection regulator in its investigations. It only complied when the ICO threatened it with prosecution under section 47 of the Data Protection Act.

The ICO adds that it has seen evidence that the firm provided a false name to some of the call recipients.

ICO Director of Investigations, Steve Eckersley, said of the Manchester firm:

Companies that operate in this way are causing distress and offence to huge numbers of people who just don’t want these calls. Our advice for organisations is quite clear: they must not call people registered on the TPS and, where we see this happening, we will investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.”

In another case, the ICO has fined a London-based firm £90,000 for sending 4,396,780 unsolicited emails between January and September 2017 regarding funeral plans.

The regulator adds that many of these emails did not make it clear who was sending them, which is another breach of the law.

Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said of the London firm:

“Companies seeking to use email marketing must make sure they follow the law. People would particularly expect this to be so when the subject may be perceived as sensitive, as in this case.

“[name of firm] relied heavily on their affiliates to deliver millions of unwanted messages to members of the public, and also ensure compliance with the law. However, it was [name of firm]’s responsibility to ensure they had valid consent to send the emails. Businesses should send marketing messages in compliance with the law or face potential enforcement action by the ICO.”

Section 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations forbids firms from sending marketing texts to anyone who has not given explicit consent in advance to receiving them.

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

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