Over 40 separate estate agencies have agreed to join forces to fund litigation against Agents’ Mutual, parent company of OnTheMarket.
The firms represent around 70 agency branches in total.
A statement overnight from Iain White, convenor of the OnTheMarket Action Group of around 200 rebel agents, claims those taking action believe they were misled by Agents’ Mutual over promises made on joining that their subscription fees would always be equal to, or lower than, members who joined at a later date.
White says it has now been suggested that, instead, Agents’ Mutual has been offering subscriptions at a much lower price, disadvantaging earlier members.
A spokesperson for OnTheMarket this morning said: "While we by no means take it lightly that some agents are feeling ‘disenfranchised', the broader context remains that the apparent supporters of Mr White’s ‘Action Group’ represent just over one per cent of our agents. The overwhelming majority of our member agents remain wholly supportive of OnTheMarket and of our shared long-term commitment to build the best portal for consumers and agents alike.
“As for the instigation of legal action against Agents' Mutual Limited for alleged misrepresentations made in relation to pricing policy, we have no reason to believe that there are any grounds for legal action. The board and management team of Agents’ Mutual have at every stage of the company’s inception and development taken suitable legal advice. We continue to take appropriate legal action to ensure that agents meet their contractual obligations.”
Today’s statement from White, a freelance consultant to the estate agency industry, says: “We are now instructing Tollers LLP to act for the Action Group. However, this is just the beginning of the process, not the end. Many agents remain undecided about how to proceed and their support will add strength to the Action Group’s position.”
He has repeated his appeal to agents still wishing to join the group to do so by Monday through contacting email@example.com.
Ian Carson, a partner at Tollers, is believed to be the principal barrister acting for the group and has previously acted for claimants in multiple group litigation actions.