ICSTIS CODE OF PRACTICE - EIGHTH EDITION - MARCH 1998


Contents    
1 INTRODUCTION 4 PROVISIONS RELATING TO PARTICULAR CATEGORIES OF SERVICE
1.1 About ICSTIS 4.1 Children's services
1.2 Terms of reference 4.2 Competitions and other games with prizes
1.3 The scope of this Code 4.3 Virtual chat services
1.4 Definitions 4.4 Contact and dating services
 2 ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS 4.5 Employment and business opportunities
2.1  Responsibility 4.6 Betting Tipster services
2.2 Setting up a service   4.7 Bulletin boards and other computer-based services
2.3 Prior permission   4.8 Sales promotion services
2.4  Data protection   4.9 Fundraising and charitable promotions
2.5 Other regulators and codes of Practice  4.10 Advice services
2.6 Number re-use 4.11 Services of a sexual nature
3  PROMOTION AND CONTENT PROVISIONS 5 PROCEDURES AND SANCTIONS
3.1  Legality 5.1 Delegation of powers
3.2  Decency  5.2 Complaint investigation
3.3  Honesty  5.3 Informal procedure
  Provisions relating specifically to promotional material 5.4 Standard procedure
3.4  Pricing information  5.5 Emergency procedure 
3.5  Address information  5.6 Adjudication 
3.6  Service identification 5.7 Sanctions
3.7  Promotions with long shelf-lives 5.8 Oral hearings
3.8  Use of the word 'free'  5.9 Reviews 
3.9  Inappropriate promotion  5.10 Administrative charge 
3.10 Promotions in non-print media     
3.11 Editorial  promotions    
  Provisions relating specifically to content    
3.12 Delay     
3.13 Undue encouragement of unauthorised use     
3.14 Incorrect information    


ICSTIS CODE OF PRACTICE - EIGHTH EDITION - MARCH 1998


1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 About ICSTIS

The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS) is the regulatory body for the premium rate telecommunications industry. The Committee consists of around 10 members, all appointed in their individual capacities. ICSTIS is a non-profit making limited company which is financed by the industry. The Committee is supported by a full time Secretariat.


1.2 Terms of reference

The role of ICSTIS is to supervise both the content of and promotional material for premium rate services and, with the support of the network operators, to enforce this Code of Practice. ICSTIS undertakes the following tasks:

a setting and maintaining standards for the content and promotion of premium rate services, and keeping these standards under review,

b consulting the industry and other interested parties before changing these standards,

c monitoring services to ensure that both the content and promotional material comply with these standards,

d investigating and adjudicating upon complaints relating to the content and promotion of premium rate services and recommending action designed to achieve compliance where the Code has been breached, which may include the imposition of sanctions,

e providing a system for the adjudication of claims for compensation in respect of unauthorised use of live conversation services,

f publishing reports on its work at regular intervals and generally publicising its role.


1.3 The scope of this Code

1.3.1 This Code covers the provision of premium rate services by means of a public telecommunications network.

1.3.2 This Code applies to all premium rate services which are accessed by a customer in the United Kingdom, whether those services are provided from within the United Kingdom or from abroad and whether the service provider is situated within the United Kingdom or abroad.

1.3.3 Wherever a premium rate service promotes, or is promoted by, a non-premium rate telecommunications service, both services will be considered as one where, in the opinion of ICSTIS, it is reasonable to do so.

1.3.4 This Code applies to all premium rate services. There is also a 'Live Conversation Services Code of Practice' which applies specifically to live conversation services.


1.4 Definitions

1.4.1 Premium rate services ('services') are services where part of the overall charge paid by a customer to the network operator for the service, being payment for the content of the call or other product or service delivered in the course of, or as a direct consequence of, the call, is passed on by the network operator, directly or indirectly, to the service provider.

1.4.2 Live conversation services are premium rate services involving two-way live speech.

1.4.3 Network operator means any company recognised as such by ICSTIS. ICSTIS may recognise as a network operator (a) any company which runs a public telecommunications network over which premium rate services are conveyed, or (b) any company associated with a company which runs such a network. ICSTIS shall publish a list of 'network operators' recognised by ICSTIS for the purpose of this Code of Practice. ICSTIS may amend this list from time to time as it sees fit and will publish any such amended list.

1.4.4 Service providers are individuals, organisations or companies that provide premium rate services.

1.4.5 Information providers are individuals, organisations or companies on whose behalf service providers may provide services. Regardless of the origin of the content of a service, responsibility for compliance with this Code of Practice rests with the service provider.

1.4.6 Promotion means anything where the intent or effect is, either directly or indirectly, to encourage the use of premium rate and the term promotional material should be construed accordingly.


2 ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

2.1 Responsibility

Service providers are responsible for ensuring that the content and promotion of all their premium rate services (whether produced by themselves or by their information providers) comply with all relevant provisions of this Code.


2.2 Setting up a service

2.2.1 Before providing services, a service provider must notify ICSTIS of the following:

a the telephone number ranges (including dialling codes) allocated to it by the network operator,

b the name, address, telephone and fax number of the person representing the service provider who is nominated to receive all communications in connection with the application of the Code, and

c where different from b above, the name and contact details of the person responsible for handling enquiries.

Any changes or additions to the above must be notified to ICSTIS immediately.

2.2.2 Where certain codes or number ranges have been designated by either Oftel or a network operator for the provision of particular service categories, services within these categories must use those codes or number ranges.

2.2.3 Before promoting or providing services, the service provider must have readily available all documentary and other evidence necessary to substantiate any factual claims made. This material, together with a statement outlining its relevance, must be provided without delay if requested by ICSTIS.

2.2.4 Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that all their services are of an adequate technical quality.

2.2.5 There are guideline documents ('ICSTIS Guidelines') giving detailed advice on certain areas of the Code which are available from the Secretariat. Further guidance on any matters relating to the Code is also available from the Secretariat.


2.3 Prior permission

2.3.1 ICSTIS may require that particular categories of service must not be provided unless ICSTIS has given its prior written permission for any service within that category. ICSTIS will give reasonable notice of such a requirement and the category of service to which it applies and will publish a full list of such service categories from time to time. Prior permission may be granted subject to the imposition of additional requirements. Such permission may be withdrawn upon reasonable grounds and with notice in writing.

2.3.2 Where a service provider can demonstrate for a particular service that any requirement of the Code can be adequately satisfied by alternative means, ICSTIS may give prior written permission for the service to be provided. Such permission may be withdrawn upon reasonable grounds and with notice in writing.


2.4 Data protection

2.4.1 When registering with the Data Protection Registrar, all service providers must in their application:

a disclose ICSTIS as a potential data user,

b state that the data may be used for regulatory purposes.

2.4.2 Service providers must not give any undertaking to callers, suppliers, information providers or others which could preclude any information being given to ICSTIS in confidence.

2.4.3 Services which involve the collection of personal information, such as names, addresses and telephone numbers (which includes the collection of Calling Line Identification (CLI) or caller display information), must make clear to callers the purpose for which the information is required. The service must also identify the data user (if different from the service provider or information provider) and any different use to which the personal information might be put, and give the caller an opportunity to prevent such usage.


2.5 Other regulators and codes of practice

Promotions in print media must also comply with the provisions of the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion which are supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority. In the case of promotions on radio or television, whether in programmes or advertisements, there are codes of practice published by the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority which are also relevant to premium rate services.


2.6 Number re-use

A service must not be replaced on the same number by another service which might give offence to or might be inappropriate for callers reasonably expecting the original service.


3 PROMOTION AND CONTENT PROVISIONS

3.1 Legality

Services and promotional material must not contain anything which is in breach of the law, nor omit anything which the law requires. Furthermore, services and promotional material must not facilitate or encourage anything which is in any way unlawful.


3.2 Decency

3.2.1 Services and promotional material must not:

a contain material indicating violence, sadism or cruelty, or be of a repulsive or horrible nature,

b involve the use of foul language.

3.2.2 Services and promotional material must not be of a kind that are likely to:

a result in any unreasonable invasion of privacy,

b induce an unacceptable sense of fear or anxiety,

c encourage or incite any person to engage in dangerous practices or to use harmful substances,

d induce or promote racial disharmony,

e cause grave or widespread offence,

f debase, degrade or demean.

3.2.3 Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that services and promotional material are not used to promote or facilitate prostitution.


3.3 Honesty

3.3.1 Services and promotional material must not:

a be of a kind that are likely to mislead by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise,

b seek to take unfair advantage of any characteristic or circumstance which may make consumers vulnerable.


PROVISIONS RELATING SPECIFICALLY TO PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL

3.4 Pricing information

3.4.1 The service provider must ensure that the charge for calls to each service is clearly stated in all promotions. Prices must be noted in the form of a numerical price per minute, inclusive of VAT, or the total maximum cost to the consumer of the complete message or service.

3.4.2 Textual pricing information must be legible, prominent, horizontal and presented in a way that does not require close examination.

3.4.3 In the case of promotions transmitted in television programme time, the pricing information must be spoken as well as being visually displayed if the maximum call cost can exceed £2.00.

3.4.4 Services which always cost 50 pence or less and are terminated by forced release are exempt from all requirements concerning pricing information.

3.4.5 In cases where it is unlikely that a consumer will have seen or heard any promotion containing pricing information, the service provider must place a short, distinct pricing message at the beginning of the service.


3.5 Address information

For any promotion the identity and contact details of either the service provider or information provider, where not otherwise obvious, must be clearly stated so that customers can contact them directly.

The identity means the name of the company, partnership or sole trader and the contact details must consist of one of the following:

a a full postal address including postcode, or

b a PO Box number including postcode (PO Box numbers cannot be used in the case of employment services - see 4.5.3f), or

c a telephone helpline number (to be charged at no more than UK national rate).


3.6 Service identification

3.6.1 In all promotional material, the code or prefix must be presented in such a way that it can be readily identified as a premium rate code or an international prefix.

3.6.2 If the service operates on an international number and terminates outside the UK, it must be made clear in the promotional material that it is an international call.


3.7 Promotions with long shelf-lives

In the case of services which are promoted in publications or other media which have a shelf-life of three months or more, a statement must be included in the promotion to the effect that the information given is correct as at the date of publication and that date must also be stated. If the call charges increase during the life of the promotion, such services must be prefaced with a short message informing callers of the new rate(s).


3.8 Use of the word 'free'

No premium rate service may be promoted as being free. No product or service may be promoted as being free, or described in a way that implies it is free (for example, a gift), if the most obvious or practical way of obtaining it is by using a premium rate service. The word 'free' may be used in cases where the service provider revenue does not exceed the delivery costs of the product and the promotional material states the maximum cost of the call.


3.9 Inappropriate promotion

Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that promotional material does not reach those for whom the service concerned may be inappropriate.


3.10 Promotions in non-print media

Promotions transmitted by radio, television, teletext, telephone, facsimile, Internet or any other form of communication must observe the provisions of this Code in the manner most reasonable and appropriate to the technology employed.


3.11 Editorial promotions

In the case of promotions that appear in editorial material, service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Code.


PROVISIONS RELATING SPECIFICALLY TO CONTENT

3.12 Delay

Services must not be unreasonably prolonged or delayed.


3.13 Undue encouragement of unauthorised use

Services must not be of a nature which unduly encourages the unauthorised use of telephones by providing the caller with a cash or equivalent reward for having taken part in the service.


3.14 Incorrect Information

Services must not contain incorrect information and it should be clear to consumers when time-sensitive information was last updated.


4 PROVISIONS RELATING TO PARTICULAR CATEGORIES OF SERVICE

4.1 Children's services

4.1.1 Children's services are those which, either wholly or in part, are aimed at or would reasonably be expected to be particularly attractive to persons under 16 years of age.

4.1.2 Promotional material for children's services must clearly state:

a the maximum possible cost of the service, and

b that the service should only be used with the agreement of the person responsible for paying the telephone bill.

4.1.3 Children's services, and any associated promotional material, must not:

a contain anything which is likely to result in harm to children or which exploits their credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty,

b involve an invasion of privacy of any child,

c make direct appeals to children to buy, unless the product or service is one likely to be of interest to them and one which they could reasonably be expected to afford for themselves,

d encourage excessive use of premium rate services.

4.1.4 Children's services must:

a cost no more than £3.00,

b be terminated by forced release,

c if the service costs over 50 pence, be prefaced by a short statement clearly stressing that the service should only be used with the agreement of the person responsible for paying the telephone bill,

d include nothing that a reasonable parent would not wish their child to hear or learn about in this way,

e not encourage children to ring other premium rate services or the same service again.


4.2 Competitions and other games with prizes

4.2.1 Services in this sector ('competition services') fall into five basic categories:

· lotteries,

· competitions,

· other games with prizes,

· an entry mechanism into a draw,

· information about prizes.

Most of these are subject to legal restrictions. Before setting up such services, service providers are strongly advised to seek advice on legal and excise duty implications.

4.2.2 Promotional material for competition services which can cost more than £1.00 must clearly display:

a the cost per minute and likely playing time, or the full cost of the call,

b details of how the competition operates and an indication of any tie-breakers.

4.2.3 Competition services which may cost more than £5.00 must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £2.50, and after each £2.50 of call spend thereafter, require an active confirmation that the caller wishes to continue with the call. The method used to obtain this confirmation must have been granted permission by ICSTIS. Failure to provide the correct responses must, after the provision of any necessary prize claim information, cause the service to be terminated immediately by forced release.

4.2.4 Competition services which are aimed at or would reasonably be expected to be particularly attractive to persons under 16 years of age must not:

a offer cash, or anything which can be readily exchanged for cash, as a prize,

b feature long or complex rules.

4.2.5 Promotional material must clearly state any information which is likely to affect a decision to participate, in particular:

a any closing date,

b any significant terms and conditions, including any restriction on the number of entries or prizes which may be won,

c an adequate description of prizes, including the number of major prizes,

d any significant age, geographical or other eligibility restrictions.

4.2.6 The following additional information must also be made readily available to potential competitors. If not contained in the original promotional material, it must be available free to anyone sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope:

a how and when prizewinners will be informed,

b how prize-winner information may be obtained,

c any criteria for judging entries,

d any alternative prize that is available,

e the details of any intended post-event publicity,

f any supplementary rules which may apply.

4.2.7 Competition services must have a closing date, except where there are instant prizewinners. An insufficient number of entries or entries of inadequate quality are not acceptable reasons for changing the closing date of a competition or withholding prizes.

4.2.8 Competition services and promotional material must not:

a use words such as 'win' or 'prize' to describe items offered to all participants,

b exaggerate the chance of winning a prize,

c suggest that winning a prize is a certainty,

d suggest that consumers must dial a premium rate number in order to participate if an alternative postal entry route is available.

4.2.9 Service providers must ensure that:

a prizes are awarded within 28 days, unless a longer period is clearly stated in the promotional material,

b postal entries have the same chances of winning as telephone entries,

c if there is any subjective assessment in the selection of the winning entries (for example, tie-breakers) in a competition open to the general public, then judging is by a person independent of the service provider and any intermediaries involved, or by a judging panel including at least one independent member.


4.3 Virtual chat services

4.3.1 Virtual chat services enable two or more callers to exchange separate recorded messages between each other while connected to the service. These services do not involve live telephone conversation. Virtual chat services may also enable contact details to be exchanged between callers, either in the course of exchanging messages or using voice-mail boxes.

4.3.2 Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that nobody under the age of 18 uses virtual chat services.

4.3.3 All virtual chat services must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £10.00, and after each £10.00 of call spend thereafter, do the following:

a inform the caller of the price per minute of the call,

b require callers to provide a positive response to confirm that they wish to continue the call. If no such confirmation is given, the service must be terminated.

4.3.4 Service providers must:

a have in place, and implement in appropriate circumstances, a reasonable complaints handling procedure,

b pay reasonable and valid claims for compensation.

4.3.5 At the time of entering into employment, service provider employees who are involved in operating virtual chat services (whether or not for the purposes of monitoring) must be given a copy of this Code. After adequate training (which should be for a minimum of four hours), the employee must sign a document to confirm that s/he has read this Code and has had its contents and significance explained and that s/he will comply with its provisions. On-the-job training should also be given. A copy of this signed document must be retained by the service provider and should be produced on request from ICSTIS. No such employee shall be under the age of 18 and ICSTIS will retain the right to impose a condition that operators should be of a higher age.

4.3.6 Service providers who operate virtual chat services which enable contact details to be exchanged, either in the course of exchanging messages or using voice-mail boxes, must:

a warn callers of the risks involved when telephone numbers are given out to other callers and give callers clear advice on sensible precautions to take when meeting people through virtual chat services,

b ensure that publicly available elements of the service do not contain telephone numbers, addresses or any other means of direct contact,

c where it is not obvious, make clear how long an individual message will remain on the service,

d when requested by the caller, ensure that their details are removed from the service at the earliest opportunity and in all cases within 24 hours,

e make clear in the promotional material, any restrictions on the location, sex and age range of callers to the service.


4.4 Contact and dating services

4.4.1 Contact and dating services do not enable two or more callers to exchange separate recorded messages between each other while connected to the service.

4.4.2 In the context of this section, the 'advertiser' is the person featured in the initial message.

4.4.3 All contact and dating services must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £10.00, and after each £10.00 of call spend thereafter, do the following:

a inform the caller of the price per minute of the call,

b require callers to provide a positive response to confirm that they wish to continue the call. If no such confirmation is given, the service must be terminated.

4.4.4 All promotional material must make clear:

a where, when and for how long an individual's advertisement will appear,

b the location, sex and age range of advertisers on the service,

c when individually advertised voice-mail boxes may not contain a recorded message from the advertiser,

d if advertisers are obliged to leave a voice message in addition to the text message for publication.

4.4.5 Service providers must:

a use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that nobody under the age of 18 uses contact and dating services,

b warn advertisers of the risks involved when telephone numbers are to be given out to respondents and give users clear advice on sensible precautions to take when meeting people through dating services,

c ensure that publicly available elements of the service do not contain telephone numbers, addresses or any other means of direct contact,

d when requested by the advertiser, ensure that their details are removed from the service at the earliest opportunity and in all cases within 24 hours,

e bar access to a voice-mail box where the advertiser has not collected responses for more than four weeks. If the service provider is unable to tell when responses are collected, no advertisement may be published for more than four weeks.


4.5 Employment and business opportunities

4.5.1 Service providers wishing to provide employment services should seek advice from the Department of Trade and Industry, Employment Agency Standards. Section 6(1) of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 prohibits employment agencies and employment businesses from charging fees to persons for finding or seeking to fi them work whether employed or self-employed, subject to certain exceptions. The service provider element of the premium rate charge amounts to a 'fee' for this purpose. Any service which is found to be in breach of the law will breach the Code (see paragraph 3.1).

4.5.2 Services and promotional material must:

a correspond to genuine vacancies and/or opportunities, the existence of which must be fully substantiated on request,

b not be likely to mislead a caller as to the conditions, necessary qualifications or availability or extent of any potential employment or business opportunity, whether by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise,

c make no claims relating to earnings unless the evidence that such earnings are currently and regularly attained by existing employees or equivalent is readily available.

4.5.3 All promotional material must clearly state:

a the maximum total cost of the call,

b any additional expenditure, including any investments, that may be required over and above the cost of the telephone call,

c the type of work to be done and its geographical location,

d the number of workers required,

e the basis and level of remuneration and, where known, the level of earnings that may realistically be expected,

f the identity and full address of the service provider or information provider - a PO Box number or registered office is not sufficient, nor is a telephone helpline number.

4.5.4 All services must:

a provide all the information required by 4.5.3 above within the first two minutes of the service itself, together with the principal terms of employment and the address and/or telephone number of the employer or business opportunity provider,

b inform the caller of the cost of the call as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £2.50, and after each £2.50 of call spend thereafter.


4.6 Betting tipster services

4.6.1 Services and promotional material must not:

a make claims about future selections being certain winners or about the certainty of profits,

b quote odds for future selections unless the availability of these odds can be substantiated.

4.6.2 Opinions on particular selections given in services or promotional material must make clear that they are opinions and not statements of fact. The use of quotation marks on their own is not sufficient.

4.6.3 Claims about the following must be capable of substantiation:

a previous selections, including general statements about tipsters' records of success,

b past profits. Aggregate profit figures may only be calculated using starting prices and the total stake on which the profit is based must be stated.


4.7 Bulletin boards and other computer-based services

Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that the information contained on bulletin boards and similar computer-based services complies with this Code.


4.8 Sales promotion services

4.8.1 The promotional material for a sales promotion must:

a make clear any factors likely to affect a consumer's decision to participate in a promotion before the consumer is committed to any purchase upon which participation depends. These factors include:

· instructions on how to participate,

· the full cost and any conditions of participation,

· any closing date,

· any significant age, geographical or other eligibility restrictions,

· any limits on the number or amount of promotional products on offer.

b make clear if participants may become involved in further publicity or advertising, whether connected with the sales promotion or not,

c obtain participants' written permission if their names and/or addresses are to be used in further publicity.

4.8.2 The promotional material for a sales promotion must not mislead consumers, whether by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise, as to the nature of the promotion. Particular care must be taken when the consumer has no opportunity to examine goods before delivery.

4.8.3 Contingency plans must be made to supply consumers with an alternative (either in cash or in kind) of equal or greater perceived value in case of unexpectedly high demand.


4.9 Fundraising and charitable promotions

4.9.1 Promotional material for charitable promotions is subject to the 1992 Charities Act.

4.9.2 Promotional material for charitable promotions and for fundraising must make clear:

a the name of the beneficiary,

b either the total sum per call or the amount per minute to be paid to the beneficiary,

c any restrictions or conditions attached to the contribution to be made to the beneficiary.

4.9.3 There must be no limit to callers' contributions - should these contributions exceed projected targets, the additional amounts should be given to the beneficiary according to the same criteria used for contributions below that level.

4.9.4 Substantiation of the benefit accruing to the beneficiary as a result of the promotion must be available on request.


4.10 Advice services

4.10.1 All advice services must:

a be conveyed in a responsible manner,

b if giving medical, financial, legal or other similar professional advice, indicate clearly in the promotional material, or at the beginning of the service, the identity, the current status and any relevant professional qualifications and experience of the person(s) or organisation supplying the information or advice. If the advice is given by a person with no relevant qualifications, the service should explain the source of the information.

c be prefaced with a statement that the caller should not act upon advice which needs individual interpretation without first consulting a suitably qualified practitioner.

4.10.2 To avoid being classified as 'services of a sexual nature', advice services and promotional material for them must not contain anything of a sexually suggestive or titillating nature.


4.11 Services of a sexual nature

4.11.1 Services of a sexual nature are services of a sexually suggestive or titillating nature or services where the associated promotional material is of a sexually suggestive or titillating nature.

4.11.2 Services of a sexual nature, or promotions for them, must not contain references which suggest or imply the involvement of children.

4.11.3 Services of a sexual nature must not contain a visual component (for example, facsimile, video telephony or pictorially-based electronic mail).

4.11.4 Promotions for services of a sexual nature must not appear in generally available publications (other than 'top shelf publications') or in any publication which is unsolicited. In the case of promotions in other media, equivalent measures reasonable and appropriate to the media employed should be applied.

4.11.5 All recorded services of a sexual nature must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £10.00, and after each £10.00 of call spend thereafter, do the following:

a inform the caller of the price per minute of the call,

b require callers to provide a positive response to confirm that they wish to continue the call. If no such confirmation is given, the service must be terminated.


5 PROCEDURES AND SANCTIONS

5.1 Delegation of powers

The Committee may delegate its powers to sub-committees which will be formed of no less than three Committee members.


5.2 Complaint investigation

5.2.1 ICSTIS will investigate all complaints which are received within a reasonable period from the time when the call was made.

5.2.2 ICSTIS, through its Secretariat, monitors premium rate services. The Secretariat can itself initiate a complaint where there appears to be a breach of the Code.

5.2.3 During complaint investigations the Secretariat may request the service provider to disclose to ICSTIS, in confidence and within a reasonable time period, any additional relevant information or documents required for the completion of the investigation. This may include information about call volumes, patterns and revenues, details of the numbers allocated to an information provider, or details of services operating on particular premium rate numbers.


5.3 Informal procedure

If an apparent breach of the Code is of a minor nature, causing little consumer harm, the 'informal procedure' may be used. Factors including the seriousness of the breach and the service provider's breach history may be taken into account when deciding whether the informal procedure should be applied. In such cases:

a The service provider will be contacted and informed of the apparent breach.

b If the service provider agrees that a breach of the Code has taken place, the service provider will be required to remedy the breach. No other sanction will be imposed or any administrative charge levied.

c The service provider will be sent a letter confirming what has been agreed.

d If the service provider disputes the breach, the standard procedure may be invoked.


5.4 Standard procedure

When the Secretariat receives or initiates a complaint, the 'standard procedure' will usually be invoked:

a The service provider will be given all the necessary information about the complaint, including details of the service or promotional material which gives rise to the apparent breach of the Code, and will be referred to the relevant provisions of the Code.

b The service provider will be given a reasonable time in which to respond and to provide any information requested. In the absence of any special circumstances, this response will be required within five full working days. In special circumstances, a shorter time limit may be set - but this will be no less than 24 hours.

c If the service provider fails to respond within the required period, ICSTIS will proceed on the assumption that the service provider does not wish to respond.

d The Secretariat will prepare a report, together with relevant supporting evidence, which will be placed before ICSTIS for adjudication.


5.5 Emergency procedure

Where it appears to the Secretariat that a breach of the Code has taken place which is serious and requires urgent remedy, the 'emergency procedure' will be invoked:

a The Secretariat will undertake an immediate investigation of the complaint.

b On completion, the Secretariat will notify its findings to three members of the Committee.

c If all three members agree that there appears to be a serious breach of the Code requiring urgent remedy, the Secretariat will telephone the service provider to advise that the service appears to be in breach of the Code, that the emergency procedure has been invoked and that, unless the service is removed immediately, the network operator will be informed of the breach and requested to bar access to the relevant number(s) forthwith and to withhold from the service provider any outstanding payments.

d If the Secretariat is unable to contact the service provider, ICSTIS will advise the network operator of the apparent breach of the Code and recommend that access to the relevant number(s) should be barred forthwith.

e Once the service has been removed, the service provider will be provided with all the necessary information relating to the complaint and will be referred to the relevant provisions of the Code. The service provider will then be required to respond in writing within three working days.

f All relevant information will, in the absence of special circumstances, be laid before the Committee within 14 days from the date of the initial reference.

g The time limits set out in this section may be extended at the Committee's discretion if the Committee considers that their strict application might cause injustice.


5.6 Adjudication

On the basis of the evidence presented, the Committee will decide whether there has been a breach of the Code. Each case will be considered and decided on its own merits.


5.7 Sanctions

5.7.1 Once ICSTIS has adjudicated on the complaint in question, the Secretariat will put before the Committee the service provider's details - these will include a list of relevant breaches upheld and sanctions imposed and the numbers of lines and numbers allocated to the company.

5.7.2 ICSTIS has a range of sanctions which it will apply according to the degree of seriousness with which it regards the breach. Having taken all relevant circumstances into account, ICSTIS may:

a require the service provider to remedy the breach, and/or

b require an assurance from the service provider, or any associated individual,

relating to future behaviour in terms determined by ICSTIS, and/or

c require the service provider to submit certain or all categories of services and/or promotional material to ICSTIS for prior permission for a defined period, and/or

d recommend to the relevant network operator that access to some or all of the numbers allocated to the service provider should be barred for a defined period, and/or

e recommend to the relevant network operator that the service provider should be prohibited from providing a particular type or category of service for a defined period, and/or

f impose an appropriate fine on the service provider to be collected by ICSTIS. Non-payment of a fine will be considered to be a breach of the Code and may result in further sanctions being imposed, in addition to a recommendation to the relevant network operator to withhold and pass over to ICSTIS the sum(s) due from the service provider's outstanding payments, and/or

g recommend to the relevant network operator that the service provider should no longer be permitted to provide any premium rate services for a defined period, and/or

h require, in the case of virtual chat services (see section 4.3), that service providers pay reasonable and valid claims for compensation.


5.8 Oral Hearings

5.8.1 At any stage of its process, ICSTIS may require, or a service provider may request, an oral hearing. Such a request must be made in writing and set out the reasons why the service provider considers that an oral hearing is necessary.

5.8.2 The granting or refusal of a request for an oral hearing and the procedure adopted for the purposes of any such hearing are matters entirely within the discretion of ICSTIS.


5.9 Reviews

5.9.1 ICSTIS may, at its discretion, review adjudications and/or sanctions in the light of new information.

5.9.2 A service provider may request a review by setting out in writing the case for such a review.

Review procedure

5.9.3 Having received a written request from the service provider as to why an adjudication and/or sanction should be reviewed, ICSTIS will decide whether the review is merited and may proceed with the review forthwith or set a later date for such a review.

5.9.4 One or more nominated Committee members may decide to suspend the sanction imposed, pending a review by the Committee.


5.10 Administrative charge

All service providers found to be in breach of the Code may be invoiced for the administrative and legal costs of the work undertaken by ICSTIS. Non-payment will also be considered to be a breach of the Code and may result in further sanctions being imposed, in addition to a recommendation to the relevant network operator to withhold and pass over to ICSTIS the sum(s) due from the service provider's outstanding payments.