The Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has acted to remove the permission of Elland, West Yorkshire-based claims management company (CMC) Reactiv Media Limited. Reactiv offered claims management services regarding potentially mis-sold payment protection insurance and packaged bank accounts; and regarding unfair bank charges.
Some of the rules that Reactiv has breached are different from those seen in many of the MoJ’s recent enforcement actions, although once again a claims company has been held to account over its marketing practices. The company failed to comply with the following sections of the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules 2014:
• Client Specific Rule 1c) – all information given to clients must be clear, transparent, fair and not misleading
Client Specific Rule 1e) – if a CMC advises a client to pursue a case, it must be in the client’s interest to do so
• Client Specific Rule 4 – CMCs cannot engage in personal cold calling, such as touting for business door-to-door or stopping passers-by. All other marketing conducted via telephone, email, fax or text must comply with the Code and associated guidance published by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
• Client Specific Rule 7 – a CMC can only use the term “no win no fee” as set out by the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP) HelpNote. This document states that companies must qualify their use of this term should the client potentially have to pay other costs such as disbursements, indemnity insurance or fees for not pursuing a case with their CMC
In May 2014 the data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed a fine of £50,000 on Reactiv Media, for making unsolicited marketing calls to individuals registered with the Telephone Preference Service. Press reports suggested the company made multiple calls on the same day to disabled people, and on one occasion called the work mobile of an emergency services operative. The fine was subsequently increased to £75,000 after the company made an unsuccessful appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal, and the Tribunal decided that the original punishment was too lenient.
Tribunal Judge Chris Hughes said of the company:
“The evidence shows a culture of denial and minimisation of the breach, weak governance of the company and a tendency to blame others rather than accept responsibility.
“The evidence is overwhelming that the company carried on its business in conscious disregard of its obligations.”
After the ICO fine, the practices the company was still using were exposed by the Channel 4 documentary Dispatches. The undercover reporter found evidence of Reactiv touting for business under the guise of wishing to conduct a survey with a potential client. John Mitchison, Head of Legal and Compliance at the DMA, described the practices uncovered by the programme as “a clear breach of the Data Protection Act – they are disguising the intent of the call and people’s data is not being collected fairly.”
In April 2016, the Daily Telegraph reported that the company had refused to pay the ICO fine and was continuing to avoid it by putting itself into receivership. Meanwhile, Reactiv’s operations were being run through Flip It Marketing, newly set up by Reactiv director Tony Abbott.
Reactiv was expelled from membership of the DMA back in April 2014 for breaches of the organisation’s Code.
The trading names used by Reactiv included:
• Consumer Helpline
• Mr Bank Claim
• Mrs Bank Claim
• Bank Fees Refund
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.