Directors of companies that make nuisance calls to consumers could be slapped with a personal fine of up to £500,000 under laws to be brought in next year. The Government is to change the law to allow individual bosses to be targeted after a system of fining the company itself was slammed by campaigners as ineffective. Companies making nuisance calls – typically over unwanted sales and marketing – have been able to avoid fines by going bust, with the directors free to start a new company and keep operating. The current rules allow the Information Commissioner’s Office to fine a company up to £500,000. But research published in August by consumers group Which? found that since they were introduced in 2015, 22 fines had been imposed but only 4 had been paid in full and two had been paid in part. The rest were unpaid with several of the companies having gone into liquidation.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the rules would stop directors using a company insolvency to escape fines: ‘It will stop them leaving by the back door as the regulator comes through the front door.’ The move also effectively lifts the cap on penalties, with every one of the firms' directors potentially liable – making overall fines of £1 million or more increasingly likely. Matt Hancock, the minister for digital and culture, said: “Nuisance callers are a blight on society, causing significant distress to elderly and vulnerable people. “We have been clear that we will not stand for this continued harassment, and this latest amendment to the law will strike another blow to those businesses and company bosses responsible.”
The automated calls, relating to claims for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), hit homes across Britain at the rate of over 330,000 a day.