Second Ofcom own-initiative investigation against various Communications Providers about enforcement of the requirement to implement and comply with a Dispute Resolution Scheme

19 September 2008

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative
Complaint against: Various Communications Providers
Case opened: 19 March 2008
Case closed: 16 September 2008
Issue: Compliance with the requirement to implement and comply with a Dispute Resolution Scheme
Relevant instrument: General Condition 14.7 of the General Conditions of Entitlement (“GC14.7”)

Ofcom has now completed its assessment of industry compliance with GC 14.7 which requires Communications Providers (‘CPs’) to implement and comply with an independent Dispute Resolution Scheme for their domestic and small business customers, in relation to the provision of public electronic communications services (‘ PECS ’).

The programme targeted CPs that had been identified as not being members of an approved scheme and who had complaints made against them to Ofcom in the six months before the programme was opened. Ofcom wrote to those CPs and as a result, we are satisfied that those who were confirmed as providing PECS , have now joined or are in the process of joining an approved Dispute Resolution Scheme.

Although this programme has now been closed, Ofcom will monitor ongoing compliance by the industry and raise any concerns with CPs as necessary. This may result in investigations being opened against individual CPs and/or enforcement action against individual CPs.

Text published when the case was opened

Ofcom has opened an industry wide investigation into compliance with GC 14.7, which requires Communications Providers to implement and comply with an independent Dispute Resolution Scheme for their domestic and small business customers, in relation to the provision of public electronic communications services.

Two such Dispute Resolution Schemes have been approved by Ofcom. They are the Office of Telecommunications Ombudsman (Otelo) (http://www.otelo.org.uk) and the Communication and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) (http://www.cisas.org.uk).

The investigation will monitor compliance with GC 14.7 across the industry and will target those Communications Providers who are not members of an Ofcom approved Scheme.

Remedial action could also follow any non-compliance with GC 14.7. Under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 ("the Act"), Ofcom may issue a notification where it has reasonable grounds for believing there has been a contravention of a General Condition.

Further, under Section 96 of the Act, Ofcom may impose a penalty of up to 10 per cent of relevant turnover for failure to comply with such a notification within the time period specified.

Case Leader: Tanya Rofani ( email: Tanya.Rofani@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00981/03/08