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Ofcom approves PhonepayPlus’ 14th Code of Practice ahead of 12 July implementation

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Ofcom has approved PhonepayPlus’ 14th edition of the Code of Practice. The new Code of Practice will come into force on 12th July 2016.

As outlined in PhonepayPlus’ statement following consultation published in March, the main changes to the new Code relate to Part four and specifically the investigations, adjudications and appeals procedures to support a more streamlined and less complex process.

A limited grounds post-adjudication appeal has also been added to the text of the 14th Code. PhonepayPlus’ Investigations and Sanctions Procedure is being replaced by new Supporting Procedures, which whilst not part of the Code serve to support the enforcement process.

The final approved 14th Code of Practice and Supporting Procedures to the Code that set out how investigations are conducted has been published and will start to be enforced on 12 July.

A cornerstone of this new adjudication process will centre around the Code Adjudication Panel. Back in April, PhonepayPlus appointed Mohammed Khamisa QC as the chair of this new Code Adjudication Panel –  the long awaited replacement for the Code Compliance Panel, which was found wanting in the judicial review of 2014/15.

This will now come into force, following engagement with key stakeholders, which has also seen the Supporting Procedures having been updated and improved for clarity. The Supporting Procedures will be kept under review and updated as appropriate.

Part of that consultation was with the industry it regulates through trade body AIME, which has broadly welcomed the 14th Code. Rory Maguire, Managing Director of AIME says: “The main changes between the PhonepayPlus 13th Code and the 14th Code are in the procedures related to investigations and sanctions. Most providers will never experience these procedures, but if they do, they would hope they are fair, transparent, lawful and proportionate. AIME and PhonepayPlus have worked together to ensure the procedures meet those objectives. This is a evolutionary step to ensure PhonepayPlus regulates the market effectively providing an environment for business confidence to grow while keeping miscreants at bay. AIME congratulates PhonepayPlus Management Team on the new procedures which provide greater management oversight on case build, an opportunity for providers to discuss their case and settle early if appropriate, protection of the human rights of the companies being regulated and improved independence of the Code Adjudication Panel.”

The new code comes a year after PhonepayPlus took on a new Chairman in Sir David Edmonds and attempts to change how it works with the industry it regulates. The regulator is also expected to announce a name change later this summer to better reflect what it now does.

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