Insights Ofcom publishes Statement on its approach to enforcement — revising the Regulatory Enforcement Guidelines


The Regulatory Enforcement Guidelines set out how Ofcom will approach the enforcement of regulatory requirements and consumer protection law relating to the industries for which it is responsible. Following consultation on proposed changes to the Guidelines in May 2022, Ofcom has decided to make some changes to update and simplify the Guidelines.

Ofcom has amended the Guidelines to cover its enforcement activity in three new areas:

  • obligations placed on video sharing platforms under Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003;
  • requirements imposed on operators of essential services for the digital infrastructure subsector under the Network and Information Systems Regulations 2018; and
  • the revised framework for protecting the security and resilience of telecoms networks and services in the UK as set out in the Telecommunications (Security) Act 2021 (see item above).

Ofcom has moved much of the material previously contained in technical and legal supporting footnotes to regime-specific annexes, to make it easier to understand the application of the range of Ofcom’s different enforcement powers. The section on settlement has also been simplified.

Ofcom says that the breadth of its regulatory duties means that the appropriate procedural approach can vary from case to case. Ofcom has made amendments to the guidelines intended to:

  • recognise where the wider range of regulatory powers places different procedural obligations on Ofcom;
  • reflect its day-to-day experience of enforcement investigations; and
  • remove repetition and clarify the procedural steps it intends to follow.

In certain circumstances, people who sustain loss or damage as a result of a breach of regulatory requirements imposed by Ofcom may bring proceedings directly against the relevant company, but must first gain Ofcom’s consent to do so. The Regulatory Enforcement Guidelines now include an explanation of the process for applying for consent and how Ofcom will approach such requests. To read the Statement in full, click here.