High Court dismisses company's challenge to stop data prosecution


THE HIGH Court has thrown out a legal challenge to practices of the Data Protection Commissioner in prosecuting anyone involved in the provision of electronic marketing campaigns aimed at mobile phone users without their consent.

Realm Communications Ltd, which faced 60 District Court prosecutions for sending unsolicited marketing texts to mobile phone users, failed in a judicial review seeking a declaration that the commissioner had acted unlawfully in issuing summonses.

Realm argued the commissioner had failed in a statutory obligation to arrange in a reasonable time for the negotiation of settlement between Realm and phone users who complained. The European Communities Electronic Communications Networks and Services Data Protection and Privacy Regulations ban the sending of unsolicited messages for the purpose of direct marketing without the consent of the phone user.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy yesterday held in a reserved judgment that the absence of resolution attempts did not erase the fact that regulations were breached.

The commissioner was represented by Paul Sreenan SC and David Keane, instructed by Arthur Cox solicitors. Mr Sreenan said hundreds of prosecutions were pending against other entities, adjourned awaiting the outcome of Realm's challenge. These could now go ahead, a spokesman said.