The Claims Management Regulator (CMR), based at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has fined a claims management company £220,000 for making nuisance calls about claims for noise-induced hearing loss – the first fine of its kind.
A spokesman for the MoJ said The Hearing Clinic was responsible for “bombarding people with millions of nuisance calls” even though many of those called had subscribed to the telephone preference service. He said “hundreds of people” had complained about the calls.
He said additional conditions had been imposed on The Hearing Clinic, based in Derby, including restrictions around calling numbers registered on the preference service and using data from third-party companies.
“The Hearing Clinic could face further sanctions including suspension and, where necessary, closure if they break the rules again,” he warned.
Kevin Rousell, head of claims management regulation at the MoJ, said: “The new fines mean we have greater powers to crack down on claims management companies that make nuisance calls.
“Companies should be in no doubt that if they break the rules then we won’t hesitate to fine them in addition to the tough action we already take.”
The fine is the first to be issued by the CMR since the fining power was introduced in December 2014.
Firms found breaching the regulator’s rules of conduct now face fines of up to 20 per cent of their annual turnover, as well as having their trading licence suspended or removed.
Justice Minister Lord Faulks QC said: “The government has taken action to help people who are having their time wasted by the unscrupulous practices of some claims firms out to make themselves a profit at others’ expense.
“The new fines we introduced mean that companies who break the rules will pay the price.”
The latest figures show that the number of claims firms registered to handle personal injury claims has fallen from around 2,300 at the start of 2013, to 959 at the end of July 2015.
The MoJ asked the Civil Justice Council to investigate the number and cost of claims for noise-induced hearing loss at the end of last month.
This followed lobbying from the insurance industry over the issue, describing deafness claims as “the new whiplash” and as a “cash cow” for claimant lawyers.