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Tribunal halves CMC’s £200k fine for calling people it shouldn’t

CMC calls: Fine too high in all the circumstances

The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) has halved at £198,000 fine imposed on a claims management company (CMC) for calling people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Judge Alison McKenna, president of the general regulatory chamber of the FTT, said Media Match, which handles PPI and bank claims, contacted nine people registered with the TPS.

Judge McKenna described the nine calls as a “serious breach with a narrow ambit” and said the fine imposed by the Claims Management Regulator (CMR) was “too high in all the circumstances of this case”.

The FTT replaced a penalty based on 4% of the CMC’s turnover with one based on 2%, totalling just over £99,000.

Judge McKenna said Media Match admitted breaching general rule 5 of the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules in contacting people who had registered with the TPS without their consent.

She said Media Match had broken a further rule by failing to keep “appropriate records and audit trails”.

The judge said: “We agree with the CMR that, in a business that involves telephoning member of the public, it would be appropriate to keep recordings of those calls for longer than six months, albeit that we accept they cannot be held indefinitely.”

However, this was not a case where “no records were kept” and there were scripts available for 44 cases out of 107 complaints received by the CMR.

“We make no finding as to the correct period for which recordings should be held by a claims management company, but we would observe that in this case the CMR’s financial penalty was imposed in November 2017 in relation to calls made in the summer of 2015.

“The length of time that the CMR takes to investigate such matters might be a relevant factor for any business in deciding how long to retain phone records.”

The FTT also found that Media Match had failed to take “all reasonable steps” to comply with the law and to undertake independent due diligence checks, and had been told by the CMR that its complaints handling processes were inadequate.

“If it had acted sooner to investigate complaints from persons who wanted to know how their details had been obtained, it might have uncovered the problem with its due diligence sooner.”

The decision came ahead of this month’s switch of CMC regulation [1] from the CMR to the Financial Conduct Authority.