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on December 25, 2005 at 5:58:53 pm


EMBARGO: 23.59 on 27.12.2005



Colchester Court judgment could mean liability of £300 per spam.


In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the UK under a new European Law, a Internet Expert from Alderney has successfully claimed damages from a sender of unsolicited email marketing.


Judgement was granted by the Colchester Court against Media Logistics (UK) Limited in October, but only this week have the damages that will be payable by Media Logistics under the judgment been confirmed.


Anti-Spam Law


Around 3 years ago, the EU passed an anti-spam law, called the 'Directive on Privacy and Telecommunications (2002/58/EC)' commonly known as the '"E-Privacy Directive"' This EU law gave individuals throughout the 25 Member States a right to fight back against the tide of unwanted email by claiming damages in their local courts.


When he was sent unsolicited email by a company in Scotland promoting their contract car hire and fax broadcasting businesses, Nigel Roberts, a world-renowned expert on the Internet (and who studied European Law with the OU and College of Law in 2004), decided to put the new anti-spam law to the test. The English version of the law gives everyone the right to seek damages against the originators of unwanted email, fax or text messages.


Mr Roberts wrote to the company asking for an apology and claimed damages under "Regulation 30" of the Privacy Regulations. He also made a request under s.7 of Data Protection Act for the details of the data the company had obtained and were storing about him, and in particular the name and address of the source of their supplier of email addresses.


When Media Logistics (UK) Limited declined to pay damages and would not comply fully with Mr Roberts Data Protection Act access request he issued a Claim against the company in England (where they are incorporated) under the anti-spam law. The company filed an acknowledgment of the claim at the Colchester Court, but they did not defend the action.


As a result, on October 19th 2005, District Judge Mitchell awarded judgment to Mr Roberts in the Colchester Court, and ordered that there should be a hearing on how much Media Logistics should pay in damages and costs. The hearing had been due to take place in the first week of 2006, on January 4th.


However, in an out-of-court agreement on the amount of damages which was confirmed only the day before before Christmas, Media Logistics undertook to pay Mr Roberts agreed damages of £270 plus his £30 filing fee. (Mr Roberts' having limited his claim a maximum of £300 in order to qualify to file it as a Small Claim).


As the amount was not decided at a hearing in the higher courts, it is not binding on future cases. However Mr Roberts believes it provides an 'indicative guideline' for damages for spamming. It is also similar to statutory damages for spam in other common-law jurisdictions, such as Washington


Mr Roberts believes the conclusion of this case shows that spammers can be held responsible for sending unsolicited emails to anyone living in the British Isles/anyone with a .UK, .GG, .JE or .IM email address.


Nigel Roberts commented today:


"This is a small victory. But perhaps some spammers will now start to realise that people in Europe won't tolerate their email inboxes being filled with unwanted junk"


He thinks that it might even be possible to hold notorious Florida spammers to account in this way, if they can be identified.


For further information, call Nigel Roberts on 01481 822800 or mobile 07010 700835

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