Do I need to register with the Phone-paid Services Authority?
All phone-paid service providers are required to register with the Phone-paid Services Authority (there are a few exemptions which you can find here
). Upon registering you will receive an automated e-mail response containing a unique registration number. Please keep this safe as you will need to refer to it in the future. Registration is quick and simple. Click here to register
What is the Phone-paid Services Authority Code of Practice and who does it apply to?
The Phone-paid Services Authority Code of Practice
(the “Code”) sets out the rules and regulations for providers involved in providing phone-paid services in the UK. The Code is currently in its 14th edition. The Phone-paid Services Authority is the regulatory body with responsibility for enforcing the Code. The current Code of Practice and Guidance is intended to assist Network operators and providers comply with the Code. Network operators involved in the provision of phone-paid services have responsibilities under the Code and are required to comply with it.
If I have numbers allocated to me from Ofcom, does that mean I am a Network operator?
Not necessarily. Ofcom can allocate numbers to Electronic Communications Network Providers or, in some cases, Electronic Communications Service Providers, as they are defined by the Communications Act 2003. The Phone-paid Services Authority' definition of a Network operator is set out in the Code at paragraph 5.3.4. and is narrower and more practical for the purposes of effective regulation of the phone-paid services industry. If you are unsure, further guidance is available in the Phone-paid Services Authority General Guidance note on “Definitions” or you may wish to contact us explaining your business model and circumstances on firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I know if my Level 1/Level 2 service provider client has registered with the Phone-paid Services Authority?
In order to find out if your client has registered with the Phone-paid Services Authority you need to request a Due Diligence report on your service provider through the Registration
What is the Phone-paid Services Authority levy and how does the Phone-paid Services Authority collect the levy?
The Phone-paid Services Authority is a non-profit making organisation. We are funded by a levy on providers which is collected by Network operators. From time to time our income is supplemented by additional, non-budgeted income such as bank interest and fines or administrative charges collected from Network operators and providers who breach our Code of Practice.
Such non-budgeted income is carried forward to the next financial year and is used to offset the overall cost of the Phone-paid Services Authority and the cost borne by industry for funding us. Using the fines in this way reduces the cost of regulation to companies who do not breach our Code whilst ensuring that those providers who trade unfairly bear a greater proportion of regulatory cost. Our budget is consulted on with all stakeholders each year and is approved by Ofcom, the regulator for the UK communications industry. Each year, we ask Network operators to submit a financial report forecasting the level of outpayments it predicts that it will be making in the forthcoming year, taking into account business levels in the preceding year, plans for marketing in the forthcoming year and other factors that may affect its business. We then calculate the levy charge based on these figures and invoice in 12 equal monthly installments. Please note that any of the financial reports submitted to the Phone-paid Services Authority may be subject to audit.
What happens if you do more or less business than predicted?
Every quarter we ask Network operators to submit a financial report declaring their outpayments to providers over the preceding three months. We also ask for a final report at the end of the year detailing outpayments made over the whole year. We then reconcile the figures in these reports with the forecasted figures and the levy payments the business has already made.
Collection of the levy is the responsibility of the Network operator. If the levy has not been collected from providers, the Network operator will still be expected to pay it to the Phone-paid Services AuthorityPlus as if it had been collected. If the Network operator fails to pay the full amount to the Phone-paid Services Authority they will be considered to be in breach of their obligations and the Code.
What happens if I cannot comply with the obligations set out in the Code?
The Code has been drafted after extensive consultation with Network operators and providers in the industry to ensure that it includes practical and reasonable obligations that all stakeholders can comply with. As a responsible Network operator in the phone-paid services industry it is essential that you meet your obligations, comply with the provisions of the Code and support the Phone-paid Services Authority in its regulatory work. We are here to help you in anyway we can to assist you in ensuring that you are operating a service compliantly. If you have a problem or are facing difficulties, please contact us
as soon as possible.
What should I do if I receive a Warning Notice?
Read through the Warning Notice carefully, including any attachments and FAQs.
Set out, in writing, your response to ALL the allegations made against you. Your written response should include, but need not be limited to:
your reasons for either accepting or disputing the allegations set out, including any alternative breaches that you consider are appropriate.
your reasoned position on the recommended sanctions, including alternative sanctions that you think are appropriate.
any and all documentation or evidence which will support the statements made in your response.
any and all other matters that you wish the Tribunal to take into account in respect of the allegations against you.
Send a copy of your written response by the set deadline, to the member of the Executive responsible for handling your case. You should keep a full copy of the response and any attached documents for your own reference.
If you need more time to respond to a Warning Notice you should contact the Investigations Executive named at the bottom of the Warning Notice as soon as possible, before the deadline expires. The Phone-paid Services Authority is keen to hear your views, but if you have missed the deadline without arranging an extension, or if you don't respond at all, then the Phone-paid Services Authority will have to assume that you do not wish to comment on the matter and will decide the next steps based on the information that is in front of them.
You can send your response: by email or post.
- the Phone-paid Services Authority email addresses use the employee's first initial followed by their surname, then followed by @psauthority.org.uk,
- or post it for the attention of the Investigations Executive to: Phone-paid Services Authority, 25th Floor, 40 Bank Street, E14 5NR.
Can breaches be dealt with informally under the Code?
In appropriate cases, including where an apparent breach of the Code has caused little or no consumer harm or offence to the general public, the Executive may in its discretion deal with some matters of non-compliance on an informal basis using the Track 1 procedure. If this happens, the provider will be contacted and informed of the apparent breach(es) of the Code. The Executive will provide the provider with a set of actions which it believes are necessary to remedy the breach and prevent any repetition. If there is any disagreement about whether or not a breach has occurred, the matter will be re-allocated to Track 2 for formal action.
If the matter is resolved informally the details of the breach(es) will be retained by the Phone-paid Services Authority. If the matter proceeds to a Tribunal it may take into account the previous use of the Track 1 informal procedure if considering any breaches by the same or any connected party in the future. The Phone-paid Services Authority may invoice the relevant provider for reasonable administrative costs in resolving the matter informally.
What if I want to meet with the Phone-paid Services Authority to discuss the matter instead of responding in writing?
If you have received a Warning Notice and you want to provide a response, you will need to give us your response in writing and provide any documentary evidence that you are relying on in support of your case. You are entitled also to request to make ‘informal representations' to the Tribunal, or you can ask for a more formal Oral hearing.
In the ‘informal representations' process you are allocated approximately 30 minutes to present your response to the alleged breaches in person to the Tribunal. Neither you nor the Phone-paid Services Authority can be legally represented, but the Investigations Executive for the case will be present. The CAP will still need to see your written response to the Warning Notice before the stated deadline. The cost of your informal representation will be added to the overall costs the Phone-paid Services Authority incur in investigating your case. If breaches are ultimately upheld, it is likely that you will be invoiced for all administrative costs incurred.
Oral hearings are more formal proceedings that are often dealt with through the legal representatives of both parties, although legal representation is not a requirement. You can request an oral hearing at any time after you have received a Warning Notice, this may be before or after the Tribunal has considered your case. If you do want to request an oral hearing, you need to make a formal, written request.
Who is the Code Adjudication Panel (the “CAP”)?
The Code Adjudication Panel is made up of a maximum of 17 members. Four are legal experts, and the remainder are lay members (selected on a rotational basis) with collective adjudicatory technical, operational, marketing and consumer-based expertise. Each adjudicating panel consists of one legal expert, and two lay members.
Three members of the CAP are selected to sit on the Tribunal hearings. The Tribunal meet to consider the evidence submitted and to decide on the imposition of interim measures, or following issue of a Warning Notice, if the breaches raised and sanctions recommended by the Executive should be upheld and imposed respectively. If breaches are upheld by the Tribunal it will then decide whether the sanctions recommended should be imposed.
What happens if a breach is upheld against me by a Tribunal?
In accordance with the Code, if breaches are upheld by the a Tribunal, one or more of the following sanctions may be imposed:
a reprimand and/or warning;
- an order for a provider to give refunds to some or all consumers;
a fine – up to a maximum of £250,000 per breach of the Code;
a bar to access the service;
a requirement to remedy the breach of the Code;
a requirement to obtain compliance advice or permission to run a service;
a requirement to submit to an audit of the service; and/or
a ban on a provider or individuals associated with the provider from running some or all phone-paid services.
The Phone-paid Services Authority will publish details of an investigation and the Tribunal decision including the sanctions imposed on this website. If breaches are upheld, the Phone-paid Services Authority will impose administrative charges towards the costs incurred in bringing cases to a conclusion under paragraph 4.11 of the Phone-paid Services Authority Code of Practice. Details of the administrative charge policy can be found here: Phone-paid Services Authority administrative charges (April 2015)
Reviews of Tribunal decisions
If a provider disagrees with a decision made by a Tribunal on breaches and/or sanctions, it can contact the Executive and ask for a review of the Tribunal decision. In ordinary circumstances, the request must be submitted within 10 working days of publication of the decision. Applications for review must be in writing and specify which of the four permitted grounds for review apply.
Procedures relating to reviews can be found at paragraph 4.10 and 4.11.5 of the Code. Further detail can be found at paragraphs 253 to 261 of the Supporting Procedures
While I'm waiting for a review, do I still have to pay my fine or administration charge?
Any sanctions imposed following a Tribunal adjudication will not be suspended because you have requested a review. You must take care to ensure that all the sanctions are complied with straightaway. If you act without regard to the sanctions that have been imposed you will be committing a breach of the Code which could lead to further sanctions being imposed.
If you want to have one or more of the sanctions suspended pending the hearing then you must make a written application to the Chairman of CAP (explaining which sanctions you would like suspended and why).
Will a review or oral hearing cost me anything?
Upon making an application for review, you will be required to pay an application fee. Further administrative and legal charges can be imposed after an oral hearing or review has taken place.
Why are Special conditions or prior permission rules applied to some services?
Certain types of phone-paid services pose a greater risk of harm to users because of their content or method of operation - examples include live chat, gambling and counselling. Under the 14th Code of Practice, Special conditions are applied for a number of services rather than prior permissions.
Can I use a phone-paid service number to advertise job vacancies?
The Phone-paid Services Authority strongly advise that independent legal advice is sought before setting up a phone paid employment service, as most services of this type are subject to legal restrictions. The Phone-paid Services Authority has provided additional guidance within the Employment, Employment Information and Business Opportunity Services fact sheet.
How do I set up a competition service?
The Phone-paid Services Authority strongly advise that independent legal advice is sought before setting up a phone-paid competition service, as most competition services are subject to legal restrictions. Once you have sought legal guidance please ensure that your service is compliant with the Code.
Do I get my phone-paid service number through you, the Phone-paid Services Authority?
No, you will need to contact a Network operator or a provider for the provision of a phone-paid service number. Click here for a list of Network operator contacts