home owners 'may be able to claim compensation'
owners in Burnham-On-Sea who lost money due to price-fixing by four
estate agents may be able to claim compensation, the Competition
and Markets Authority (CMA) has said.
first reported here last
week, Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Abbott and Frost Limited, Gary
Berryman Estate Agents and its parent company Warne Investments
Limited, and West Coast Property Services, were fined a total of
£372,233 for colluding to set a minimum commission rate of
1.5 per cent for properties in the Burnham-On-Sea area. The four
companies have all admitted to price fixing.
spokeswoman Rebecca Cassar told Burnham-On-Sea.com this week: "Once
the CMA has issued a final decision, any members of the public that
have lost out would be able to rely on the decision to prove the
breach of competition law and seek compensation from the businesses
concerned, if necessary by taking court action. The
price-fixing agreement which the estate agents have admitted started
in February 2014 and lasted just over a year."
Burnham-On-Sea.com asked the CMA whether the funding from the estate
agents' fines may be put towards community projects in the town.
spokeswoman responded: "All the money from the fines we issue
is paid to the Treasury. This is done, in part, so that as an independent
body we have no incentive other than the enforcement of the law
for pursuing our enforcement work."
CMA's Stephen Blake, a senior director for cartel enforcement at
the organisation, said in a statement: "Moving home is expensive
and this shouldnt be made worse by estate agents conspiring
to deny their customers the best possible deal, by agreeing not
to compete on fees."
cheats customers, and we are committed to tackling it regardless
of the size of the businesses involved. We
have taken action against estate agents before, and will do so again
if firms break the law."
businesses involved agreed to settle with the Competition and Markets
Authority (CMA) after a year-long investigation.
company, Annagram Estate Agents Limited (trading as C J Hole),
will not be fined - as long as it continues to co-operate
as it was the first company to confess its participation in the
CMA is also continuing to investigate the conduct of a further estate
agent, Saxons PS Limited, which is not a party to the settlement.
The CMA said no assumption should be made that Saxons PS Limited
has infringed the law.