The case concerned the non-payment of financial sanctions and administrative charges that were imposed by an earlier Tribunal (case reference 158026). The previous case, which was heard on 17 December 2019, concerned a ‘Call Connection’ service operating on the number ranges 0870 1860 XXX, 0870 1862 XXX, 0870 1863 XXX, 0870 1864 XXX, 0870 1866 XXX, 0870 1868 XXX, 0870 1869 XXX and 0870 4942 XXX (“the Service”). The Service was operated by ECN Digital Ltd (the “Level 2 provider”) and the Network operator for the Service was Core Telecom Ltd (the “Network operator”).
The Service offered connection to organisations that were sought by consumers. The Service cost 13p per minute plus a call connection charge, and it operated across various web domain addresses. The Level 2 provider registered with the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) on 17 September 2018.
The Network operator informed the PSA that the Service commenced operation on 7 September 2015 and that the Level 2 provider was allocated a total of 508 premium rate numbers between September 2015 and February 2018. The Level 2 provider registered its Service numbers with the PSA on 22 March 2019.
On 27 September 2019, the Network operator advised the PSA that it had terminated all the Level 2 provider’s Service numbers.
On 17 December 2019, the Tribunal upheld breaches of Rule 2.2.2, Rule 2.2.7, Paragraph 3.11.3 – Special Condition ICSS 5, Paragraph 3.11.3 – Special Condition ICSS 11, and Paragraph 3.11.3 – Special Condition ICSS 13.
The overall assessment of the case was “very serious”, and the following sanctions were imposed as a result of the Tribunal’s findings:
- a formal reprimand
- a bar on access to the Service for a period of three months, or until full payment of the fine and administration charge, whichever is the later
- a requirement that the Level 2 provider must refund all consumers who claim a refund, for the full amount spent by them on the Service within 28 days of their claim save where there is good cause to believe that such claims are not valid and provide evidence to the PSA that such refunds have been made
- a fine of £250,000.
The Tribunal also recommended that the Level 2 provider pay 100% of the administration charges, which amounted to £8,043.00.
The Level 2 provider was formally notified of the Tribunal’s decision on 6 January 2020.
On 20 March 2020, the PSA received correspondence from the appointed liquidator of the company, which advised that the Level 2 provider had entered voluntary liquidation on 19 March 2020.
Considering all the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal decided to impose the following sanctions:
- a formal reprimand
- that the Level 2 provider be prohibited from having any involvement in any current or future PRS operated on a number or number range within the PSA’s regulatory remit for five years or until all sanctions imposed by the Tribunal of 17 December 2019 have been complied with, whichever is the later.
Administrative charge recommendation: 100%