Personal liability of directors for breaching rules on electronic communications
From 17 December 2018, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) will have increased powers to penalise company directors (and the company itself) who make unsolicited electronic… Read more
From 17 December 2018, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) will have increased powers to penalise company directors (and the company itself) who make unsolicited electronic marketing communications; this includes the issuing of fines against such directors of up to £500,000.
The aim of the new legislation is to tackle nuisance calls and messages by targeting company directors, rather than just the company itself. Prior to the change, the ICO could only fine a company for breaching the relevant legislation.
The new powers are set out in the Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendment) Regulations 2018, which amends the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR).
PECR provides specific requirements that companies must adhere to when distributing direct marketing by electronic means. Electronic means includes live and automated direct marketing telephone calls and direct marketing sent by email or by text message.
A breach of the specific requirements set out in PECR will expose a company and, from 17 December 2018, its directors to a fine. In 2017, The ICO issued civil monetary penalties totalling £2.83 million to companies in breach of marketing regulations.
This amendment will put individual directors squarely in the ICO’s sights and will expose directors to personal liability in relation to company breaches, making it extremely important for company directors to be aware of the company’s electronic marketing campaigns and to be satisfied that such campaigns comply with the requirements set out in PECR.
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John Alder is a corporate senior associate
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