On 27 December 2005 Media Logistics (UK) Ltd, a company from Falkirk, accepted civil liability to Channel Islands businessman Nigel Roberts for sending him spam – more politely, targeted but unsolicited email advertising and promotional material. The spam had advised Mr Roberts about a contract car firm and a fax broadcasting business. He began his fightback with the Data Protection Act 1998, asking Media Logistics how it had got hold of his details, but the company declined to give him this information. He then began his action. The case took place in Colchester County Court because the company is registered in England and Mr Roberts had limited his claim for damages to £300 to make it a small claim. The case was not defended and judgment was given for £270 damages and £30 costs. It is believed to be the first successful claim in the UK under the Privacy and Telecommunications Directive of 2002.
The Scottish Executive unveiled its proposals for a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission on 22 December 2005 (see previously Nos 459 and 523). This will deal with all consumer or service complaints against lawyers which cannot be resolved at source. However, the professional bodies will retain responsibility for professional discipline and will handle complaints about the conduct of practitioners. The Commission will take over the jurisdiction of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman in reviewing the way the professional bodies handle complaints. The chair and most members of the Commission will be non-lawyers. Running costs will be met from a levy on practising lawyers, with a further levy from those who are the subject of complaints (unless the complaints are vexatious or frivolous). Roy Martin, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, was critical of the duplication of process involved in the complex scheme, while Caroline Flanagan, President of the Law Society of Scotland, was concerned about the additional costs and the impact this might have on access to legal services, particularly in rural areas. The proposals will come forward in a Legal Profession and Legal Assistance Bill to be laid before the Scottish Parliament in February 2006.
NAKED RAMBLER STILL IN: (a) THE BUFF; (b) CONTEMPT; (c) BREACH OF BAIL; AND (d) JAIL
The Naked Rambler Steve Gough flashed briefly back into the headlines after another (non-)appearance in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 19 December 2005. He had been due to face a charge of breach of the peace by being naked in Saughton Prison car park on 3 November and also one of breach of bail conditions by appearing in public with his private parts exposed. Gough refused to clothe himself for his latest court appearance, despite Sheriff Andrew Lothian’s order to that effect. Sheriff, depute fiscal and defence agent then proceeded to the cells, where Gough was held to be in contempt of court. Sentence for this was deferred until 9 January 2006 for social work and community service reports. One has to admire the Naked Rambler as a man with convictions; it looks as though he is going to get through the coldest part of the winter nice and warm (see No 515).