British Gas has won a landmark legal battle with a regulator,
freeing it to send out direct mail promotions for its full range of
products and services to its 18.5 million customer database.
A data protection tribunal last week ruled in favour of British Gas
Trading in its year-long dispute with the Data Protection Registrar,
which had declared unlawful the utility giant’s attempts to market joint
fuel offers to customers as it prepared to move into the electricity
market. The DPR said such offers could not be sent to consumers without
The tribunal ruled there was no need for such consent, adding that for
the joint promotion of gas and electrical appliances and other
energy-related products, such as insurance, an opt-out box on a bill was
all that was needed.
Other utility companies prevented by the DPR from initiating similar
direct mail tactics are now likely to be freed up by the ruling.
Rosemary Jay, the legal adviser to the DPR, said: ’We always knew
British Gas would be able to market other products. The issue was about
consent. The tribunal ruled you can do some things without it.’
Jay said the tribunal went further than the DPR ruling and the regulator
is now considering its position and has 28 days to appeal. She would not
comment on whether such a move was likely.
Neville Barltrop, media relations manager for Centrica, which trades as
British Gas, said: ’We are very pleased. Most importantly we can now use
our database to sell gas and electricity jointly.’