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PSR issues public censure on payment system operator

15 August 2017. Published by Charles Buckworth, Partner

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has recently announced its first enforcement outcome, as it issued a public censure against a payment system operator.

The PSR has published a decision notice it issued to the Cheque & Credit Clearing Company Ltd (C&CCC) in which it outlines the reasons for its decision to impose a public censure on C&CCC for failing to comply with the PSR's general directions.

C&CCC admitted that it had failed to comply with general direction 6.11 by not publishing minutes for four board meetings, held between April 2016 to August 2016, as soon as reasonably practicable after each meeting. C&CCC also admitted that it had failed to comply with the requirements of general direction 6.3(b) in respect of its August 2016 board minutes because it failed to provide the PSR with a link to the minutes on its website.

C&CCC's failures to comply with the requirements of general direction 6 constitute compliance failures under section 71 of the Financial Services Banking Reform Act 2013, whilst the PSR published details of the failures under section 72(1) of that Act.

The PSR decided that a public censure, rather than a financial penalty, was appropriate for a number of reasons.  These included C&CCC’s admissions to its failures, the company's engagement with the PSR from the outset of the PSR's investigation, the lack of any previous findings of compliance failures against C&CCC, and the fact that C&CCC did not derive any economic benefit from the failures. Furthermore the PSR noted that there had been no detrimental impact on payment system users, competition, or innovation.

It seems highly unlikely that the FCA would open an enforcement investigation in similar circumstances, and therefore for the small number of firms that are regulated by the PSR this action should serve as a warning as to the PSR's appetite to enforce against firms even for apparently less serious misconduct.