Getting ready for Code 15

20 October 2021, Jo Prowse, PSA Chief Executive

I am really delighted that we have published our finalised 15th Code of Practice together with the Statement following our consultation on the draft Code.

This is a major milestone for us and I want to take the opportunity to thank both the PSA staff who have delivered the Code and everybody who has contributed their ideas and responses over the last 18 months. This has been the most important and most extensive overhaul of our regulation in over a decade and that has been reflected in the scale and scope of our engagement with you.

Our Statement addresses the many comments received and we are of course pleased that the responses were largely positive and supported our approach. We have made important changes to the draft Code as a result of your feedback:

  • we were persuaded that the 12 month re-opt-in requirement was not in line with consumer expectations and added little additional protection for consumers. We are instead requiring consumers to be reminded after 12 months that a subscription is in place and how to opt out. 

  • we have modified Customer Care Requirements to clarify roles and responsibilities of different parties in the value chain

  • we have clarified the wording of the Due Diligence, Risk Assessment and Control (DDRAC) requirements to make clear they only apply to PRS contracts

  • we have modified the wording of the Integrity Standard and Organisational and service information requirements to provide greater clarity and certainty.

I know that many of you in the industry have been keen to see the new Guidance accompanying the Code – we will be consulting on draft Guidance by the end of the month. We have completely revised our approach to Guidance. It is now structured to relate to the Standards in the Code. It is considerably shorter than our previous Guidance. The principle we followed is that it should genuinely help you to implement and comply with the Code of Practice – it does not introduce additional rules or requirements.

What's next? The new Code comes into force on 5 April 2022. We understand that there will be work for you to do to get ready for implementation – we are also having to prepare for the new activities of Advocacy and Supervision. We want to work with you in the collaborative spirit of the new Code to get you ready for implementation. 

We will be holding a further series of workshops in the New Year – some of these will certainly be webinars as before. And as we have been throughout the development of the Code, we will be available to answer questions about implementation.

I am excited about the new Code. We have worked hard over the last few years to eliminate some bad practice and introduce better standards of consumer protection in the phone-paid services market. We have had some success – complaints are at their lowest level for at least a decade. That’s great of course but we want to use that as a foundation to build on.

Our vision for the new Code is that it will enable higher levels of compliance, so that we need to do less by way of formal enforcement. Through positive dialogue with the industry as part of our supervisory activity we will be able to address emerging issues in the market before they become major problems. And finally, we expect where we do still need to take enforcement action that we will be able to do so quickly and efficiently.

We hope that this will lead to well-protected consumers having more confidence in the market and therefore better able to make use of the convenience and utility of phone-paid services. We look forward to working with you all to make that happen!