The Federal Court’s recent decision to award $75,000 in civil penalties against Bytecard and $37,500 against its director is a reminder to industry participants of the importance of complying with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme.
The sum of civil penalties awarded against Bytecard significantly exceeds the total amounts in dispute in each of the five individual complaints. The decision highlights that respecting the umpire’s decision is an essential feature of an Ombudsman scheme.
Carriage service providers can be investigated for not cooperating with the TIO and—most seriously—for not complying with TIO determinations.
The TIO refers a steady stream of providers to the ACMA, mainly for failing to join the scheme and, occasionally, for failing to comply with the scheme.
Most providers do the right thing when approached by the ACMA. Since January 2012, the TIO has referred 28 providers to the ACMA for failing to join the scheme. Of these providers:
- six are currently under investigation
- 13 have joined the scheme, following varying degrees of ACMA involvement
- four have ceased operating as CSPs
five were found not to be eligible CSPs, and were therefore not required to join the scheme.
The ACMA has also dealt with three TIO exemption-related matters, which resulted in two exemptions being granted and one being revoked.