Coalition plans to pass legislation which will make it easier for companies to be fined for nuisance calls are still on course, despite not featuring in yesterday’s Queen Speech.
The proposals – which will see a lowering of the complaint threshold, possibly to as few as a handful of nuisance calls – are included in the Consumer Rights Bill.
It is one of six Bills carried over into this Parliamentary year, which also include the Finance Bill, the Deregulation Bill, and the Criminal Justice & Courts Bill.
With their remaining Commons Stages dealt with this month and next, it is hoped that all Bills will clear the House of Lords by Christmas.
The direct marketing industry has been demanding action for years, sparked by fears that rogue operators are bringing the whole telemarketing sector down. In January, culture minister Ed Vaizey confirmed plans to bring forward the legislation.
The scale of the issue was exposed in the High Court, which in October last year overturned a huge fine for Tetrus Telecoms, after ruling the Information Commissioner’s Office could not prove the company’s actions had caused ‘substantial’ damage or ‘substantial’ distress to consumers.
At the time, Vaizey said: “The ICO has argued that this threshold should be addressed and they have suggested a test of ‘nuisance, annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety’. [And] I agree with the ICO on this point.”
Last month, the ICO revealed a Yorkshire-based direct marketing company was one of two firms facing £140,000 fines for embarking on a sustained campaign of nuisance calls.
The company, which the ICO refuses to name before it responds to the threat, was linked to thousands of nuisance marketing calls by the regulator.
One Yorkshire-based company, Reactiv Media, was expelled from the DMA in April after a raft of complaints about an unrelenting campaign of PPI nuisance calls. It is not known whether the two cases are linked.
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