Important - the regulations cover emails to an individual subscriber - this is where you have a contract with the email provider/ISP for the email services as yourself as an individual (not simply a contract with your employer or a university, has to be a communications provider).
It also has to be a marketing email. There are many other types of emails, such as those confirming email address for an opt-in, or even a survey, which are not covered.
Also, you must not have opted in for the emails from the sender or requested emails from the sender (opting in for someone else is a different matter, and I believe does not apply).
Also, this is UK only. Yes, the rules apply EU wide, but chasing someone in another country is harder and rules may be subtly different. In general the spam I am targeting has clearly stated UK company details in the marketing email.
The usage of the email address, e.g. is it a work email address, is not relevant. What matters is who exactly has a contract with the ISP for the email, and if they contract as an individual.
I am not a lawyer, and welcome constructive comments, but you are free to use this text if you wish...
Basically, if you can be sure they got this, and they do not sort a settlement or agreement within 14 days, you can move on to a county court claim. I believe this meets all of the requirements for a pre-action notice. In general, I only go on to a county court claim if they have clearly identifiable UK company details and have replied to my notice email thereby confirming receipt. Occasionally I'll post this notice and then pursue action.
[This is edited after some comments, so is the current version. Sorry if that makes some comments seem odd. Thanks for the feedback everyone]
This is not a scam - you have acted unlawfully and I am entitled to claim damages - so do not ignore this email assuming it is just a scam. I have previously made successful claims via the courts. NOTICE BEFORE ACTION You have transmitted, or instigated the transmission of, an unsolicited communication for the purpose of direct marketing by means of electronic mail to an individual subscriber contrary to section 22 of The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. Feel free to look up those regulations on www.legislation.gov.uk I, as the recipient and individual subscriber, have never given you consent to send me marketing emails and I have never provided my email address to you as part of a negotiations or sale by you to me in the past. For the avoidance of doubt - this is not a Data Protection Act issue, or one where you have the option of relying on an "unsubscribe" link - sending just one email, as you have, is a breach of the regulations. Section 30 of the regulations permits me to take civil action to recover damages suffered as a result of your breach of the regulations. It is difficult to assess damages exactly but your email has used resources on my computers and my Internet connection, wasted some of my time, caused distress and annoyance which has interrupted my chain of thought and concentration, and so disrupted work I am doing. Looking in to similar cases for such damages it is clear that claims range from £270 to £750. In this instance I feel that £200 would constitute a reasonable level of damages for the hassle you have caused me by your breach of the regulations. In accordance with section 8.2(1) of the Pre-Action Conduct Directions of the Civil Procedure Rules, I would like you to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution to this matter by means of discussion and negotiation. I therefore invite your comments and any offer of settlement or other negotiation. You have 14 days to reply. Ignoring this notice may lead to proceedings starting without further notice, and will increase your liability with the addition of costs. Your attention is drawn paragraph 4 of the Pre-Action Conduct Directions located on www.justice.gov.uk Should this matter go to court I will rely on the email you have sent and associated headers, whois data and other resources identifying the sender. If you believe you have evidence that shows I did give *you* consent to the sending of that email I ask that you forward this to me by reply. I look forward to your prompt reply.
-- Adrian Kennard, [my address as required by pre-action protocol]