The government has unveiled new plans to impose fines of up to £500,000 on companies that carry out nuisance cold calls or text messages following more than 175,000 complaints last year. Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, described the current law as “a licence for spammers and scammers” and appealed for more powers.Currently, firms can only be punished if the Information Commissioner can prove a call caused “substantial damage or substantial distress”. However, from 6 April, that legal requirement is to be removed.The number of complaints has risen in the past decade and the issue is particularly a problem for the elderly and housebound as such calls can cause distress and anxiety. Since January 2012 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has taken action against nine firms totalling £815,000. However, it has been powerless to target other firms behind a large number of unsolicited calls or texts.Under the new powers, it will now be up to the ICO to assess whether a serious contravention has taken place.The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.Setfords Solicitors are a national full service law firm, with professional negligence solicitors in Leeds and across the country.