Entrepreneur 'makes spammers pay £1300'

The director of a small internet business in the UK has won a record amount of damages for being the victim of a single spam e-mail.

Gordon Dick, who helps firms with e-commerce, was awarded £750 for receiving an unwanted mail from a company that promoted anti-spam solutions on their website.

He says an apology from the sender, Transcom, for breaching the Data Protection Act and the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations, would have settled the matter.

But he claims the firm refused to pledge they would not break the regulations again, denied the actions were unlawful, and challenged the 30-year-old to take legal action.

“So I did,” Mr Dick told the Daily Telegraph yesterday, after winning damages as well as legal costs of £618.66, amounting to a total payout of £1300.

His victory at Edinburgh Sheriff Court is thought to be the first time that a court in the UK has awarded compensation to an individual for complaining about spam.

Unlike most cases for small claims, the normal £75 cap on expenses was lifted by the sheriff because of “Transcom’s actions during the case”, Mr Dick said from his website.

To reach the verdict, evidence and case law was submitted by solicitors on behalf of Transcom, resulting in an offer to settle out of court for £500.

Mr Dick, of Edinburgh, rejected the offer, saying he wanted £750 plus an apology and a pledge the satellite communications firm would not breach the law again.

The day before the proof hearing, Transcom agreed to pay the full sum but refused to undertake not to breach the regulations again in an out of court settlement.

According to Mr Dick, this settlement never completed and Transcom's solicitors withdrew from the case.

However the firm remains defiant: it yesterday insisted to the BBC that it had not sent out any spam e-mails.

Rather, it messages customers annually as part of its marketing activities, said its managing director William Smith.

Recipients can easily unsubscribe, he said, adding that in the case of Mr Dick, it seemed his address was included because it was in the same Web-based group as Transcom’s.

In total, 72,000 people received the message - meaning that if every recipient was eligible to claim the same damages Transcom’s bill would exceed £54,000,000.

“If you are fed up with increasing amounts of spam e-mail in your mailbox then make a legal claim now and make the spammers pay for their actions,” Mr Dick declared.

“While most spam comes from countries such as the USA and China and therefore is difficult to apply European laws to, UK internet users can at least drive local spammers out of business.

“The courts have now sent a clear message, spam will not be tolerated and individuals’ rights to not have their mailbox filled with unsolicited advertising will be upheld,” he said.

Speaking from his website – www.scotchspam.com – Mr Dick said it was “clear” throughout the case that authorities have “little for spammers and their anti-social actions.”

He encouraged anyone in the UK who receives spam to use his website for the lowdown on low-cost legal action, in a bid to “clean up our little part of the Internet.”



 

8th March 2007

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