The Data Protection Regulator, the ICO, has announced fines totalling £495,000 to three well-known companies which, between them, sent more than 354 million nuisance messages.

We Buy Any Car was find £200,000 for sending more than 191 million emails and 3.6 million nuisance texts.

Saga was fined a total of £225,000 for sending 157 million emails.

Sports Direct was fined £70,000 for sending 2.5 million emails.

All of these companies fell foul of the electronic marketing law as none of them had permission from people to send them marketing emails or texts.

Andy Curry, Head of Investigations at ICO, said

“Getting (these types of messages) is frustrating and intrusive.”

“These companies should have known better. Today’s fines show the ICO will tackle unsolicited marketing, irrespective of whether the messages have been orchestrated by a small business or organisation or a leading household name.  The law remains the same.”

We Buy Any Car sent emails which were initially lawful as they had been approached by potential customers.  However, they went on to send unsolicited emails containing marketing information and that was unlawful.

The Saga Group of Companies used data lists of people who had not given those companies permission to contact them. Relying on indirect consent as they attempted to do did not work because electronic marketing law is strict.  The Saga Group of Companies have been issued with enforcement notices in addition to fines and must now cease any further illegal direct marketing or face court action.

Sports Direct was unable to show evidence of consent to an email marketing campaign.

In total, the ICO has issued 17 fines so far this year totalling more than £1.7 million for breaches of direct marketing laws.

It is important to appreciate that the law applies to not for profit organisations such as charities, just as much as it does to businesses.

For advice on direct electronic marketing (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations), please contact Holly Dobson at or on 07912 749455.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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