A second estate agent has been fined by the courts after the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) brought a case against the company for failing to inform the watchdog that it processes personal data.
The Welsh firm, Newbank Estate and Letting Agents, was ordered to pay a £100 fine, £250 towards prosecution costs and a £15 victims' surcharge by at Cwmbran Magistrates' Court.
Anne Jones, assistant commissioner for Wales, said that the second fine should serve as a clear warning to all businesses that they must comply with all necessary laws if they handle personal data.
"The fact that this is the second prosecution against an estate agent that the ICO has brought to court this month proves that the industry still needs to take its legal responsibilities more seriously," she said.
"We are currently writing to all estate and lettings agents in the UK to remind them to check their requirements under the Data Protection Act. The message behind today's prosecution is clear: ignore our warning and you too could end up in court."
However, Stewart Room, a lawyer with Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, told V3.co.uk that the fine issued by the court undermined the ICO's stance, and called on the organisation to lobby hard for more to be done.
"The amount of the fine sends out a very clear signal to business, namely that the courts do not regard Data Protection Act crimes as serious matters. This is very depressing as it will only encourage bad businesses to continue in their ways," he said.
"The ICO should not be deterred by the attitude of the courts. It should continue to enforce the law appropriately, while impressing upon parliament that something needs to be done."
The first estate agent to be hit by a monetary penalty was PDQ Property Sales on 11 March which received a fine of £250 and was ordered to pay £265 in court costs, as well as a £15 victims' surcharge.
Information commissioner Christopher Graham announced on Tuesday that the organisation is in the process of preparing a fifth fine, which could go as high as £500,000, as it seeks to clamp down on poor data handling.
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