The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is seeking an amendment to a data protection bill currently going through the House of Commons to ban all cold calling.
Following the second reading of the Data Protection and Digital Information (No2) Bill in the House of Commons this week, APIL said it would push for the amendment to be added during the bill’s committee stage.
APIL has been lobbying for a ban for many years and, in a briefing for MPs, pointed out that, while solicitors were already banned from cold calling, claims management companies were still permitted to make such calls, provided they follow the rules as set out in the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018.
Section 35 of the Act states that an unsolicited call can be made only to someone “who has previously notified the caller that for the time being the subscriber consents to such claims being made”.
APIL said: “By putting the onus on someone to consent to being cold called, the government has also put the onus on someone decide when that consent should have expired.”
The government “cannot and should not” expect someone to search for guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office, in charge of enforcing the ban under the Act, “and then conclude that consent should be no longer valid, even if that person is aware that consent has been given in the first place”.
A survey of over 2,000 UK adults carried out by YouGov for APIL last summer found that 42% had received a cold call or text between June 2021 and June 2022.
Of those who had received a call, 96% supported a total ban, with 88% left “feeling annoyed, angry, anxious, disgusted or upset”.
APIL described the bill as “the perfect opportunity to tackle the problem of cold calling and spam texts”.
“Merely changing the rules to put the onus on someone to consent to being cold called has not solved the problem of cold calling.
“It is hard to believe that someone would knowingly consent to being bombarded by nuisance calls and text messages about personal injury claims, especially since the YouGov survey has found these calls and texts are so unpopular.”
APIL said a total ban was supported by the House of Commons justice select committee, the Association of British Insurers and the Civil Justice Council low-value personal injury working group.
A separate survey of 2,000 UK adults, carried by Census Wide late last year for National Accident Helpline (NAH), found that almost two-thirds (63%) had been cold called by a personal injury company.
Almost half of adults who had received a call said they were actually less likely to claim as a result, while half associated ‘cold callers’ with the personal injury sector.
Jonathan White, legal and compliance director at NAH, said cold calling added to “the stigma around claiming” and deterred victims from getting compensation and justice.
“We’ve seen the significant impact that earlier reforms and the Civil Liability Act have had on reducing cold-calling complaints, but a complete ban would resolve this issue once and for all.
“While we’ve never made a single cold call, we’ve even come across people cold calling and impersonating National Accident Helpline, therefore there’s a clear gap in policy which is being exploited by scammers and damaging the reputation of the personal injury sector as a result.”