estate agents fined £372,000 for price fixing
price-fixing cartel of four Burnham-On-Sea estate agents have been
fined more than £370,000 by the Competition and Markets Authority
(CMA) this week.
Taylor Hunt, Abbott and Frost Limited, Gary Berryman Estate Agents
and its parent company Warne Investments Limited, and West Coast
Property Services, have been 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.
four companies have all admitted to price fixing.
fines were handed out on Thursday (March 2nd) by the CMA, as the
firms denied local home-owners a better deal by setting the fixed
commission rates for residential properties.
was fined a total of £186,054, including a 20 per cent reduction
for settlement, and a reduction of 35 per cent for leniency.
Berryman Estate Agents, and its parent company Warne Investments
Limited, have been fined a total of £97,807, including a reduction
of 20 per cent for settlement.
Coast Property Services UK has been fined £58,273, including
a 20 per cent reduction for settlement and 35 per cent for leniency.
and Frost Limited was fined £30,099, which includes a reduction
of 20 per cent for settlement and for agreeing to follow a new streamlined
procedure for the remainder of the case.
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."
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 cooperate
as it was the first company to confess its participation in the
is the second case brought by the CMA against estate agents in recent
years. The previous case saw members of the Three Counties Estate
Agent Association fined £735,000 in 2015, and resulted in
the CMA launching a campaign designed to improve understanding of
the law within that sector, and so compliance with it.
was this campaign that resulted in the current case being brought
to the CMAs attention, and we encourage others with evidence
of competition law being broken to report their concerns to the
CMA is also continuing to investigate the conduct of a further estate
agent, Saxons PS Limited, which is not a party to todays settlement.
No assumption should be made that Saxons PS Limited has infringed
under the Competition Act become payable only after the CMA has
issued a formal infringement decision setting out the CMAs
findings in full, together with the basis for the calculation of
next procedural step is the issue of a formal statement of objections,
which is expected shortly.
has invited the estate agents to comment on the news.
Coast Property said: "West Coast co-operated with the CMA in
relation to this investigation to a satisfactory resolution."
A Berryman's spokesman said: "Berryman's has fully co-operated with
the CMA in respect of its investigation relating to matters three
years ago. The issues raised occurred entirely outside of Company
policy. The Company conducts its operations in full compliance with
the Competition law rules that apply in the UK and the EU."