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on December 27, 2005 at 2:11:13 pm


EMBARGO: 23.59 on 27.12.2005



County 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 the British Isles has successfully claimed damages from a sender of unsolicited marketing email .


Judgment has been granted by the Colchester County Court against Media Logistics (UK). The judgment, in late October, ordered that a Disposal Hearing take place on January 4th 2006 at which the amount payable by the defendant would have been decided by athe judge.


However, this week the damages payable by Media Logistics under the judgment have now been agreed by both Claimant and Defendant at £300 (including the £30 filing fee). The Claimant limited him claim to a maximum £300 as a Small Claim.



Anti-Spam Law


2-3 years ago, the EU passed an anti-spam law, called the 'Directive on Privacy and Telecommunications (2002/58/EC)', more commonly known as the '"E-Privacy Directive"' This European 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, who is a world-renowned expert on the Internet and studied European Law with the OU and College of Law in 2004), decided to put the new anti-spam Regulation 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.


Although he got his apology, Media Logistics (UK) Limited declined to pay compensation and would not comply fully with Mr Roberts Data Protection Act access request. So he issued a Claim against the company in England (where they are incorporated) under the anti-spam law. The company filed acknowledgment of the claim at the Colchester Court, but then 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 he ordered that there should be a hearing on how much Media Logistics should pay in damages and costs which was scheduled for the first week of 2006, on January 4th.


However, in an out-of-court agreement reached on the eve of the Christmas break, 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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