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Nuisance calls, end of the line for directors?

11 December 2018

The new Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments) Regulations 2018 which come into force later in December will empower the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to impose fines of up to £500,000 on officers and to personally hold them account even where the company has dissolved.

Since April 2015, the Information Commissioner has been able to levy up to £500,000 on firms making unsolicited direct marketing calls under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), the highest of which was handed down last year at £400,000 to Kuerboom Communications.

These measures, however, have not deterred some directors from simply dissolving their companies when enforcement agencies come knocking, resulting in fines remaining unpaid. This is a common tactic employed by nuisance-call firms, and is largely responsible for the ICO’s poor collection rate at just 54% since 2010.

Personal liability for directors

  • This year, under existing disqualification provisions, five directors have already been struck-off for 30 years for contravening direct marketing call rules.
  • Whilst failure to adhere to disqualification orders could lead to a prison sentence, after successful proposals in November, the new Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments) Regulations 2018 which come into force later in December will empower the ICO to, in addition, impose fines of up to £500,000 on officers and to personally hold them account even where the company has dissolved.
  • The ICO’s increasing willingness to robustly enforce the present law on electronic communications provides a compelling reason to ensure businesses follow best practice and think twice before launching an email campaign.

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