Bosses of companies who ‘cold-call’ people could be personally responsible for fines of up to half a million pounds, under proposals announced today.

The department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport proposes that directors are held personally responsible for fines rather than the company itself. The government describes the measures as taking a stand against ‘unsolicited nuisance calls’ and notes that company directors have escaped justice for too long. 

According to a government, some directors have tried to escape paying penalties by declaring bankruptcy - only to open up again under a different name. Last week, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) revealed it had recovered just 54% of the £17.8 million in fines it issued for nuisance calls since 2010.

Margot James MP, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: ‘Nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out. We want to make sure the information commissioner has the powers to hold rogue bosses to account and put an end to these unwanted calls.’

Steve Wood, deputy commissioner at the ICO, said: ‘We welcome these proposals from the government to make directors themselves responsible for nuisance marketing. We have been calling for a change to the law for a while to deter those who deliberately set out to disrupt people with troublesome calls, texts and emails.’

Today’s announcement follows the government’s decision not to impose a blanket ban on cold-calling in the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill despite repeated calls for action. The bill cleared its third and final reading in the House of Commons last month but without amendments for a total ban.