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faqs

We want to help you find the information you are looking for on this site. To aid your search, below is a list of the most frequently asked questions.

who is icstis?

where does icstis get its power from?


what is the icstis Code of Practice and does it apply to network operators?

if I have numbers allocated to me from Ofcom, does that mean I am a network operator?

do I have to register with icstis?


how do I know if my service provider client has registered with icstis?


what is the icstis levy and how will icstis know how much to charge me?


what if I do not do as much or I do more business than I predicted?


if I have already paid my service provider, how can I collect the levy?


what happens if I cannot comply with the obligations set out in the Code of Practice?


what should I do if I receive a breach notice?


what if I need more time to respond to a breach notice and where should I send my response?


what happens if I do not respond to the breach notice or miss my agreed deadline?

can breaches be dealt with informally?

can I meet with icstis to discuss the breach instead of responding in writing?

what are informal representations and oral hearings?


what penalties can I expect if the breach(es) are upheld by the Adjudication Panel?

will details of adjudications be published?

what is the administration charge?

when do I have to pay a fine and/or administration charge?

what action can I take if I do not agree with the Adjudication Panel's decision?

how long does it take for a case to be reviewed?


if I am waiting for a hearing, do I still have to pay my fine or administration charge?

will an oral hearing cost me anything?



who is icstis?
icstis is the independent industry-funded regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunication services. We are non-profit making and comprise of 12 remunerated part-time Board members, who are supported by a full-time Executive.   

The Board has the decision-making powers that allow them to determine whether breaches of the Code of Practice have taken place or not.

The Executive provides administrative support to the Board and are there to assist all stakeholders in promoting a healthy industry and effective co-regulatory environment.

The Executive will contact you if they suspect that a breach has taken place and are available to answer any questions that you may have about the regulatory framework, investigation process or policy matters. The Executive are there to ensure that an adjudicating panel is provided with independent, impartial information from which they will make a decision, so it is important that you work with the Executive to make sure the Board are fully aware of your particular circumstances.

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where does icstis get its power from?
icstis operates an industry Code of Practice ("the Code") which covers the provision, content and promotion of premium rate services. The Code has been approved by Ofcom under section 121 of the Communications Act 2003 ("the Act"). Therefore, all providers of premium rate services, as defined in section 120 of the Act are bound by the provisions of the Code.

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what is the icstis Code of Practice and does it apply to network operators?
The Code sets out the rules and regulations with which anyone providing premium rate services should abide. It covers both advertising and the actual premium rate service itself. Download the Code of Practice here

As a network operator there are certain rules that you will be required to follow. Most of these are set out in Parts 2, 9, 11 and Annex 1 of the Code; although you should take care to ensure that you are familiar with the whole Code as it is likely various other parts will have an impact on you and/or your clients.  

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if i have numbers allocated to me from Ofcom, does that mean I am a network operator?
Not necessarily. Ofcom can allocate numbers to Electronic Communications Network Providers or, in some cases Electronic Communications Service Providers, as they are defined by the Communications Act 2003. icstis' definition of a network operator (see paragraph 11.3.3 of the Code) is narrower and more practical for the purposes of effective regulation of the premium rate industry. If you are unsure, view the helpnote on determining if you are a network operator

If you are not considered to be a network operator for icstis' purposes, you may be classed as a service provider or even an information provider but if you are unsure you should explain your business model and circumstances to a member of the Executive who will be able to clarify your status for you. 

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do I have to register with icstis?
If you are a network operator or a service provider you are required to register your details with icstis prior to operating.

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how do I know if my service provider client has registered with icstis?
You should not allocate numbers to a service provider client without checking to see if they have registered with icstis. When a service provider registers with icstis they will receive an automated acknowledgement that they have registered their details. You should always take care to check that the details they have registered with icstis match the details they have given to you. One of your obligations as a network operator is to complete due diligence checks on your service provider clients.

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what is the icstis levy and how will icstis know how much to charge me?
icstis is funded by the industry paying a levy (a percentage of premium rate outpayments). The levy works in a similar way to a tax and should be collected by network operators from the payments made to service providers. Every month icstis will invoice network operators and direct them to pay over the levy payments to icstis. The icstis levy is currently 0.2% of outpayments. For more information,
view Annex 1 of the Code of Practice - funding arrangements.  

Before the start of icstis' financial year, which runs from April - March, network operators are required to submit a financial report forecasting the level of outpayments they predict they will be making in the forthcoming year, taking into account business levels in the preceding year, plans for marketing in the forthcoming year and other factors that may affect the business. Once the forecast is submitted, icstis will calculate the levy charge based on the projected figures and then invoice the network operator in 12 equal monthly installments. Any of the financial reports submitted to icstis can be subject to audit.

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what if I do not do as much or I do more business than I predicted?
Every quarter network operators will be required to submit a financial report, but on this occasion they will be required to declare what the actual outpayments have been over the preceding three months and a final report will be required at the end of the year detailing the complete report of actual levels of outpayments over the whole year. The figures submitted in these reports will be reconciled with the forecasted figures and the levy payments already made.

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if I have already paid my service provider, how can I collect the levy?
Collection of the levy is the responsibility of the network operator. If the levy has not been collected from the service provider, the network operator will still be expected to pay it to icstis as if it had been collected. If the network operator fails to pay the full amount to icstis they will be considered to be in breach of their obligations and the Code.

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what happens if I cannot comply with the obligations set out in the Code of Practice?
As a responsible network operator in the premium rate industry it is essential that you meet your obligations to the Code of Practice and support icstis in its regulatory work. The obligations in the Code were drafted with extensive consultation with network operators in the industry to ensure that they are practical and reasonable obligations that all stakeholders can comply with. Of course things do not always go to plan. If you have a problem or are facing difficulties you should contact a member of the Executive immediately.

If icstis suspects that a Code obligation may have been breached then it is likely you will receive a ‘Breach Notice' from a Case Officer in the Executive.

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what should I do if I receive a breach notice?
If you receive a breach notice, follow the steps below:
Step 1 - Read through the notice carefully.
Step 2 - Set out, in writing, your response to ALL the allegations made against you.
Your written response should include, but is not limited to:

  • your reasons for either accepting or disputing the allegations set out in the breach notice.
  • any and all documentation or evidence which will support the statements made in your written response.
  • any and all other matters that you wish the Adjudication Panel to take into account in respect of the allegations against you.

Step 3 - Send a copy of your written response, by the set deadline, to your Case Officer at the icstis Executive. You should keep a full copy of the response and any attached documents for your own reference.

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what if I need more time to respond to a breach notice and where should I send my response?
If you require more time, you should contact the Case Officer named at the bottom of the breach notice as soon as possible, but before the stated deadline expires.

You can send your response:

  • by email to Case Officer's first initial and surname, followed by @icstis.org.uk
  • by letter written for the attention of your Case Officer to ICSTIS, Clove Building, 4 Maguire Street, London, SE1 2NQ.
  • by fax written for the attention of your Case Officer to 020 7940 7456.

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what happens if I do not respond to the breach notice or miss my agreed deadline?
The Board will be keen to hear your views, but if you have missed the deadline without arranging an extension or if you do not respond at all, then the Board will have to assume that you do not wish to comment on the matter and will come to a decision based on the information that is in front of them.

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can breaches be dealt with informally?
The Executive has the discretion to deal with some minor matters of non-compliance informally, on the basis that the minor infraction has been accepted by the network, corrected immediately and that no consequences have arisen from the minor breach.

If a minor non-compliance is resolved informally the details of the breach are still recorded on your file. If minor infractions are repeated then they will only be dealt with formally. If the matter is resolved informally, you will not be liable to pay an administration charge. For more information, see question on what is the administration charge?

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can I meet with icstis to discuss the breach instead of responding in writing?
It is likely that you will need to provide some written comments or documentary evidence in any event, but you can make informal representations to the Adjudication Panel or you can request an oral hearing.

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what are informal representations and oral hearings?
An Informal Representation is a process in which you are allocated a slot, usually around 30 minutes, in which you can present your comments to the Adjudication Panel in person. To keep the matter informal and relaxed, neither you nor icstis will be legally represented but the Case Officer who wrote to you will be present. In order to ensure that the Adjudication Panel is able to prepare for your Informal Representations they will want to see your written response to the breach letter in advance, so you should still respond in writing by the stated deadline. 

Oral Hearings are more formal proceedings that are often dealt with through the legal representatives of both parties, although legal representation is not a requirement.

You can request either Informal Representations or an Oral Hearing before or after the Adjudication Panel has considered your written response. If you do want to make an Informal Representation or request an Oral Hearing, you will need to make a formal, written request to do so.

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what penalties can I expect if a breach(es) are upheld by the Adjudication Panel?
If the Adjudication Panel decides that breaches of the Code should be upheld then, in accordance with paragraph 2.6.1 of the Code, the Adjudication Panel may impose one or more of the following sanctions against you:

  • A reprimand and/or requirement to comply and remedy the breach.
  • An instruction to pay an appropriate fine.
  • An instruction to cease to provide your network and/or services for the carriage of any particular type of category of premium rate services for a certain period.
  • An instruction to pay reasonable and valid claims for refunds.
  • In addition, you will be required to pay an administration charge.

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will details of adjudications be published?
Details of investigations and the Board's decision will be published on the icstis website. If the Board decides that you have not complied with your network obligations then details of any sanctions that have been imposed will also be published on the icstis website. The details of the investigation will not be published until you have been sent details of the Board's decision.

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what is the administration charge?
The administration charge system was introduced in September 1992. It was designed to ensure that those service providers found by icstis to be in breach of the Code make a contribution to the costs (administrative and legal) incurred by icstis in undertaking work for that case. Under the 11th Edition of the Code, which comes into effect on the 4 January 2007, network operators, too, will be investigated by ictis for breaches of the Code and consequently offending network operators will now also be required to make an appropriate contribution.

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when do I have to pay a fine and/or administration charge?
You must pay your fine and/or administration charge within 10 days from the date you are invoiced.

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what action can I take if I do not agree with the Adjudication Panel's decision?
There are two options available to you, you can request a Review or an Oral Hearing.

A Review is usually sought when there is a specific aspect of the matter which you might disagree with or feel has not been considered fully. For example, if there is information that was not available to the Panel at the time that they originally decided the case against you which is likely to affect the outcome of the case. You can request a Review of a decision made by an Adjudication Panel by writing to your Case Officer and setting out the reasons why you believe a Review should be granted. The Panel will consider your letter and decide whether a Review should take place. If a Panel agrees that a Review is appropriate they will either review it there and then or schedule for it to be reviewed on a different date. For more details, view the Procedures and Sanctions section of the Code of Practice, paragraph 8.8. 

If you have more serious concerns and feel a Review is not sufficient or you have had a Review and are unhappy with the decision, you may want to have the case reheard orally (in person). If so, you can request an Oral Hearing. For more details regarding oral hearings, including time limitations, view the Procedures and Sanctions section of the Code of Practice, paragraph 8.9.

If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the Oral Hearing you may appeal the matter to the Independent Appeals Body (IAB). For more information, 
view the Appeals section of the Code of Practice.

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how long does it take for a case to be reviewed?
There are numerous factors which may affect how long it takes for a case to be reviewed or reheard, ranging from how soon you can get your application to us to how large, complex or detailed the documentation submitted in evidence is (Panel members need to make sure they have enough time to read and examine all the evidence in order to prepare fully before they hear the case). Reviews usually take less time to arrange than Oral Hearings.

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if I am waiting for a hearing, do I still have to pay my fine or administration charge?
Any sanctions imposed following adjudication will not be suspended just because you have requested a review or an oral hearing. You must take care to ensure that all the sanctions are complied with straightaway. If you continue to act without regard to the sanctions that have been imposed you will be committing a breach of the Code which could lead to further sanctions and a referral to Ofcom.

If you want to have one or more of the sanctions suspended pending the hearing then you must make a written application to the Chairman of icstis (separate to your application to have the case reheard) explaining which sanctions you would like suspended and why. For more details, view the additional procedures concerning network operators section of the Code of Practice, paragraph 9.3.

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will an oral hearing cost me anything?
Where an oral hearing has been requested you should be prepared to pay the costs of the Hearing Panel and any legal and administrative costs incurred by icstis. These costs are only likely to be imposed if the Panel upholds breaches against you and if the Panel decides that it is appropriate for you to pay those costs. The Panel may also consider whether it is appropriate to refund you any administration charges you have already paid during the course of the matter.

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