Government introducing personal liability for directors for nuisance call fines

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced that it will amend the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2426) (PECR) in spring 2017 to introduce personal liability for directors for nuisance call fines.

This will form part of the Digital Economy Bill. Although the Bill is mainly intended to improve internet connectivity and provide improved protections for internet users, it also aims to protect individuals by introducing a new statutory Code of Practice for direct marketing, to ensure better enforcement of sanctions against nuisance callers and that consent is obtained from consumers.

The PECR already requires companies to display their caller ID and provide call blocking devices to vulnerable individuals, but so far this has not been enough. The upcoming amendments will allow the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to issue fines of up to £500,000 to each company director for nuisance calls. If a company has multiple directors then each could be liable for a fine.

According to the ICO, it has issued more than £2.7 million in penalties for nuisance calls since April 2015. However, £2.26 million of those penalties remain unpaid. Many limited liability companies try to avoid the fines by declaring bankruptcy but then subsequently resurface with a new name. On 23 October 2016, the Information Commissioner (IC), Elizabeth Denham welcomed the government's new plans, stating:

“Making directors responsible will stop them ducking away from fines by putting their company into liquidation. It will stop them leaving by the back door as the regulator comes through the front door”.

In preparation for the upcoming changes, as an employer you should conduct a thorough review of your company's marketing policies and procedures in order to minimise the risk of a personal fine for your directors.

Personal data collection procedures should be reviewed or put in place. A clear notice should be provided to individuals stating how the data will be used. Consent must be provided by individuals when using their data for marketing purposes.

You should put in place a contract when dealing with third parties who buy, sell, rent or share personal data. It should ensure that both parties understand how the data should be used, who it will be shared with, how complaints will be handled and who will be liable for complying with data protection provisions. It is vital that ongoing monitoring is put in place to ensure that both parties are complying with the provisions of the contract.

Finally, you must remember that if an individual requests that they are not contacted for marketing purposes, their details are placed on a separate and up-to-date internal “do not contact” list, as opposed to just deleting their details, which will serve as a reminder not to include their details in a further marketing campaigns.

The ICO has produced guidance for organisations that are involved with electronic and telephone marketing which can act as a useful starting point in order to ensure compliance. Such guidance can be found on the ICO’s website.

CONTACT KEELY

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or an Employment law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Keely Rushmore on 01727 798046 

© SA LAW 2019

Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.
The team at SA Law LLP has ‘excellent knowledge of employment law’. Practice head Chris Cook is recommended.
The Legal 500
SA Law Work Life red mug and glasses
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
Increased rights for agency and zero-hours workers

The ‘Good Work Plan’ aims to address the rights of those with atypical worker statuses, including agency workers and those on zero-hours contracts.

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
Consultation into extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents

New consultation for redundancy protection while on or shortly after maternity leave or shared parental leave.

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
A guide to flexible working & flexible working requests

Flexible working can assist employers in attracting and retaining talented candidates and staff. Our guide covers the key questions and considerations…

Read More
Chris Cook handles the full range of employment law for both individuals and organisations. He receives particular recognition for his strong TUPE expertise.…
Chambers & Partners
Phone Box with Man in a Bowler Hat
SA Law Red arrow neon light image
Views & Insights
Google issued with £44m fine over GDPR breach

Head of Employment and Data Protection, Chris Cook, explains Google's GDPR breach that led to landmark £44 million fine.

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
CEO and average worker pay gap reporting launches

Latest comment in HR Magazine: Keely explains what HR teams should know about the CEO and average worker pay gap regulations, which come into force in…

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
Deliveroo riders’ lose latest challenge to their employment status

The latest development in the Deliveroo gig-economy case sees riders appeal for trade union representation denied

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
Vegan takes employer to tribunal over 'philosophical beef'

Partner, Chris Cook comments on the recent tribunal over an ex-employee claiming he was sacked for being vegan.

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
Is veganism a protected characteristic?

Partner Chris Cook, writes about the recent case brought by Jordi Casamitjana against the LACS.

Read More