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Statement launching the thirteenth PhonepayPlus Code of Practice

01 July 2015

Following the end of the stand-still period in which European Union member states could comment on the proposed thirteenth edition of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (the ‘Code’), PhonepayPlus launches the Code today which takes immediate effect. In addition PhonepayPlus gives notice of various other determinations, and of the publication of various other documents in support of the Code.

The 13th Code of Practice

We issued a statement following consultation on the Code on 26 March 2015, which outlined our final determinations  in light of the constructive feedback from 14 parties, including two trade bodies who represent a significant range of stakeholders’ interests. This detailed statement on the Code consultation can be found on our website here.

Ofcom has already signalled that the 13th Code proposals meet the tests set out in the Communications Act 2003 and it has today given its final approval to the Code following the EU stand-still period.

The key changes that you will find in the 13th Code are:

  • A new rule requiring providers to possess any qualifications and/or licences necessary in law before operating a PRS.
  • An updated rule on the requirement not to take advantage of vulnerable consumers.
  • The removal of any spending caps currently contained within the Code or prior permission regimes - with the amounts and actions associated with them to be set outside the Code.
  • The raising of the “forced release” cap on live chat and sexual entertainment services from £30 to £45 per call (incl. VAT) – with new requirements to inform consumers clearly when they have spent £15 (incl. VAT) and require them to clearly opt in to continue when they have spent £30 (incl. VAT).
  • The raising of the single purchase cap, and monthly subscription cap, on Children’s Services from £3 to £5 (incl. VAT), and a new purchase cap for Children’s Services of £20 (incl. VAT) per service in any given billing cycle.
  • The removal of a universal requirement for all PRS to supply and promote a non-PRS UK phone number for consumer enquiries (but to maintain appropriate and effective free or low-cost complaints processes).
  • The introduction of Special Conditions to apply to defined higher risk service types – these will replace existing “prior permissions” regimes.

Notice of caps, thresholds and actions associated with section 3.12
The removal of spending caps and other amounts and actions previously found in the body of the Code has been made possible by a new framework for imposing such caps, thresholds and actions as required. This is set out at section 3.12 of the Code.

PhonepayPlus published the first Notice of caps, thresholds and actions on 26 March 2015 and the requirements set out in that Notice take effect as of today. The Notice is found on our website here: Annex B Notice of actions and thresholds under paragraph 312

Special Conditions Notices
The changes to the Code also led to a full consultation on new Special Conditions for a range of service types that PhonepayPlus considered to pose a higher level of risk. The framework for Special Conditions is found in section 3.11 of the Code and the introduction of Special Conditions is to make sure those risks are managed and achieve high compliance standards.

The proposals were set out in a consultation paper published on 31 March 2015: Guidance and new Special conditions associated with the 13th edition of the Code of Practice . Following consultation PhonepayPlus is publishing ten (10) Notices of Special Conditions. They can be found on our website here: The Code of Practice

The Special Conditions Notices take effect as of today.

Implementation of changes with a technical element
Following dialogue with industry stakeholders in relation to the changes taking effect as of 1 July 2015, there are a small number of regulatory standards that are being introduced for the first time and that require technical developments. PhonepayPlus will look to collaborate with industry members to make sure all technical standards are fully implemented before 1 August 2015. During this period PhonepayPlus will not take enforcement action in relation to these standards. A list of standards to which this transition period applies is set out below:

  • Reminders provided in call after £15 has been spent;
  • Consent to further charges in call after £30 has been spent;
  • Receipt requirements set out in PPV2 (see Notice of Special conditions for (i) ‘Pay-Per-View services’).

Guidance in support of the 13th Code
PhonepayPlus issues Guidance in support of its Code of Practice to assist people in understanding its expectations and help industry achieve high compliance standards. A full review of Guidance took place during the Code Review Project, and we set out our review findings in the consultation paper published on 31 March 2015.

PhonepayPlus proposed changes to seven pieces of Guidance. Following consultation some amendments have been made, including the decision to separate the advice given on ‘Privacy’ from that dealing with ‘Consent to charge’. These changes are explained in our Final Statement on Guidance and Special conditions.

Today we have published a full collection of Guidance in support of the 13th Code on our website. Links to relevant documents can be found here.

The full collection of Guidance includes both those items consulted upon earlier this year and the existing Guidance which continues to offer effective advice for compliance with the 13th Code. Those items of Guidance that have been transferred across to continue to support the 13th Code have had minor factual amendments to present correct information and clear paragraph numbering from the new Code.