Can’t escape the law…

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By Scott Coulthart, Special Counsel

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have filed proceedings in the Federal Court against travel booking company Getaway Escapes Pty and its director Joanne Day. ACMA has alleged multiple breaches of the Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard 2007 (the Industry Standard) and the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (the Act). This is the first time ACMA has initiated Federal Court proceedings for alleged contraventions of the Industry Standard.

The Act makes it an offence for a person to make or cause to make unsolicited telemarketing calls to an Australian number listed on the Do Not Call Register unless consent (express of inferred) has been obtained for the call. The Industry Standard sets out rules about how and when telemarketers can contact people.

ACMA have alleged that Getaway Escapes turned off their caller ID while making telemarketing calls in contravention of the Industry Standard.  ACMA is also alleging that Joanna Day failed to ensure that the company’s telephone lists were properly checked against the Do Not Call Register, resulting in telephone calls made to numbers on the Register.

A similar issue arose in 2011 when the Federal Court found that FHT Travel Pty Limited and sole director Yvonne Earnshaw breached the Act by making, or causing to be made, more than 12,000 marketing calls to people who had placed their number on the Do Not Call Register. FHT Travel was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $120,000 and the court granted injunctions restraining FHT Travel and Yvonne Earnshaw from making certain telemarketing calls for a period of 5 years without first notifying ACMA.

If the action is successful, the court could fine Getaway Escapes up to $360,000 per day for offences against the Act and up to $250,000 for contraventions of the Industry Standard. Additionally, ACMA may seek injunctions from the court.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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