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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

CMA spells out approach to cartels and anti-competitive practices

The Competitions and Markets Authority - which earlier this year fined an estate agency trade group £735,000 - has set out its most comprehensive statement yet on how it approaches the issues of cartels and anti-competitive practices. 

A lengthy statement by the authority’s new executive director for enforcement, Michael Grenfell, does not mention the Three Counties Estate Agents Ltd case by name, but says his objectives for the CMA are:

- to put an end to anti-competitive agreements, arrangements and concerted practices, abuses of dominance, and criminal cartels;

- to penalise those who engage in such practices where appropriate; and

- to send a strong message of deterrence to others who might be tempted to do so.

Grenfell says a vital part of the enforcement process - which he believes has been aided by the CMA’s additional investment in intelligence-gathering and digital forensics - is down to individual cartel “whistle blowers.” 

To this end, the authority has introduced what Grenfell calls “a leniancy programme” which provides incentives for those involved in cartels to expose their colleagues.

Grenfell also claims he hopes the authority will become faster at concluding cases, and will tackle more cases, although he acknowledges this will be down to resources.

However, he insists that complaints about anti-competitive practices are taken serious. 

“We will carefully consider reasoned complaints that are made to us, in the light of our prioritisation criteria which take into account the strength of the case – that is, the likelihood of a successful outcome – along with considerations about the impact, the strategic significance and the resource costs of pursuing the case” he adds.

The full statement is here.

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    Reading the full statement, it seems very likely that the CMA will , at some time, feel compelled to investigate the OTM/Agents Mutual agreements and (very likely) the many meetings that OTM agents may have participated in to determine which portal they collectively chose to drop.

  • icon

    This looks like a 'get out of jail free' card to any agent who got pulled into their local group decision on OTM and who wants out. Any agent who wants to break away from OTM but feels trapped should be complaining to the CMA if they feel that their local area agents acted together and broke these cartel rules.

    And of course any agent that doesn't complain risks being the subject of an investigation and being on the receiving end of a potentially crippling fine.

    All of that said, its pretty unlikely that any agent would want to stitch up their local competitor, isn't it?!

  • Rob  Davies

    I think you're probably right, Roger. Will be interesting to see what happens when OTM inevitable airs its dirty washing in public at some point in the not too distant future.

    Rob  Davies

    *inevitably.

     
  • Trevor Mealham

    I know of an agent who joined AM who has already written saying he feels that what he joined has become cartel like. Many other concerns have said that they feel AM/OTM collusion is anti-competitive too

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