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A new European ruling has made it possible for small businesses to block unsolicited emails, telephone calls and faxes, a law firm has claimed.

Glaisyers said that under the European directive, firms will be able to op-out from direct marketing campaigns from other businesses. By registering with the Direct Marketing Association’s Corporate Telephone Preference Service, bosses will be able to stem the tide of spam which has threatened the productivity of many UK businesses. Until now, only private individuals have been able to opt-out from such direct selling techniques.

However, the ruling will be bad news for small firms that rely on direct business-to-business marketing for sales, coming less than a year since the government banned companies from sending spam to individuals without their prior consent.

Joanne Sanders, of Glaisyers, said there are two sides to this new ruling: "On one hand, it will be of benefit to the countless organisations who feel they are being plagued by unsolicited calls and faxes that waste staff time and resources. On the other, there are plenty of legitimate direct selling operations that rely on ‘cold calling’ to generate a stream of new business leads.

"They could see a significant reduction in the potential of the telephone as a sales medium and may need to find alternatives. We'll have to see how the new ruling works in practice," she added, before cryptically concluding: "A fox appears to have been given the job of minding the chicken shed."

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