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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Minutes 11th February 2011

Minutes 11th February 2011

MINUTES

of the

DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION
on
Friday 11th February 2011
at
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS

 
Present:   George Kidd, David Coupe, Michelle Peters

In Attendance:   Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations,  Richard Evans, Compliance & Legal Services Manager, Laura Demorais, Compliance Officer, Suzi Higman, DMC Secretariat
 

    
1.  WELCOME AND APOLOGIES 
 
 Apologies were received from Danny Meadows-Klue and Martyn Percy.

2.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 17TH DECEMBER 2010

The Board had confirmed that the Minutes were an accurate account of their last meeting.  These had now been published on-line.

3.  MATTERS ARISING/ANY OTHER BUSINESS

There were no matters arising.

4.      COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE

a) Breakdown of complaints

SH reported on the breakdown of complaints for December 2010 and January 2011.  It had been noted that complaints were low in January and that compared to the same time last year, it was non-member complaints which were lower in numbers.

Action Point: It was agreed that the Secretariat would check that referrals were being made to the DMC, particularly in the form of links to the DMC website from other organisations such as the OFT, ICO, Consumer Direct etc.

b) Recent case/appeal

RE reported on the DMA actions involving suspension of membership following an unsuccessful appeal from a DMA member.

c) B2B cases

SH reported on a recent Business to Business case (relating to order of data and confusion over presentation of terms & conditions) and other previous cases which centered around contractual disputes between two parties.  The Board discussed how these cases should be handled under the scope of the Code.  It was agreed that the Commission’s focus should be on the ‘fair and reasonable behaviour’ of members recognising that specific contractual or legal elements in these cases may be more appropriately dealt with by alternative dispute resolution bodies as per Code clause 4.11, or through court action. 

Action Point:  Secretariat to consider appropriate wording on the DMC website to ensure it reflects the DMC’s processes in relation to contractual cases.

5. ROLE OF APPEALS COMMISSIONER

The Board discussed the role of the Appeals Commissioner and how changes of the nature of a complaint is dealt with during an investigation, how procedures can be made strengthened in ways that would command high confidence if ever challenged and whether the “balance of probability” test applied might be made more transparent  in processes and documentation.

It was agreed that there should be one record only of the outcome of an investigation, and not separate minutes of the decision making process.  It was agreed that Commissioners should be able to convey the substance of an adjudication giving as much rationale and context in the adjudication as seemed appropriate. 

The Board also discussed whether there should be meetings with member parties during investigation and whether or not it was appropriate to hold hearings just prior to adjudication.

It was agreed that the Commission may, in future, and subject to any codification required, be willing to meet with members, if they request this, as part of evidence gathering, and that additionally an informal 30 minute session just prior to adjudication may be made available for the member company to make representations should they wish. 

Action Point:  GK and Secretariat to discuss the possibility of member representations at both the evidence gathering stage of an investigation and just prior to adjudication.

6.  DOOR TO DOOR REVIEW

GK presented his overview of the remit for the proposed Door to Door review. It was agreed work should proceed in assessing the compliance issues that had arisen in past investigation and that we should assess existing rules and guidance and draft new guidance. The Commission recognised the potential value for the DMA and practitioners in research into small business views on the issues in using door drop and action that might address any barriers. This could also inform future work on the Code and guidance. The issue was seen, however, as one to be acted on or otherwise by the DMA, not the Commission.

7.  COMMUNICATIONS

a) Core principles/visuals

SH reported on a recent meeting with the DMA communications team relating to the wording of the core code principles which were to be reflected on the DMC website.  It was noted that the wording had been reduced to three clear principles and further visuals had been provided.

Action Point:  Secretariat to circulate the revised code principles and visuals to Commissioners.

b) DMC awareness survey

SH reported on the results of an awareness survey, emailed to DMA members, which had elicited123 responses.  The Board discussed the possibility of increasing awareness for Commissioners through attending Council meetings and reciprocally, for Council members to attend DMC meetings.

It was also suggested that GK may wish to do a short presentation for the next Data Protection Conference to raise awareness.

Action Point:  GK and Secretariat to discuss possibility of Commissioners attending Council meetings and Council members attending DMC meetings.

c) Data security joint communication

GK reported that it was not an appropriate time for a joint DMA/DMC statement on data security as there were other DMA initiatives which were covering this aspect of data management currently ongoing.

8. CHIEF COMMISSIONER REPORT

GK had raised any specific points under other items.

9.   GENERAL MATTERS

a) DMA Activities

ML reported on DMA activities and specifically an event, to take place on 10th March, 2011, to bring other trade associations up to date on Data Seal. 

ML reported that the DMA were embarking on their financial planning for the next year.  This would be discussed further at a DMA Board Away Day.

b) Preference Services, Compliance & Accreditation Report

This was noted.

c) Finance

There was nothing to report.

10.  FUTURE DATES

These dates were confirmed as being:

Thursday 26th May
Monday 26th September
Wednesday 30th November

All 10.30am at the DMA offices.