The Competition and Markets Authority - which has been active in the estate agency industry since its inception in April 2014 - has now published guidance aimed at making it easier for victims of competition law breaches to claim redress.
The guidance - which you can see here - includes revisions as a result of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Companies or individuals who believe they have suffered as a result of breaches in competition law now have a ‘fast track’ route to bring a complaint to the Competition Appeal Tribunal at a lower cost than before: the CMA says this is particularly attractive to smaller firms who feel they may have been disadvantaged by other firms’ breaches.
The CMA also has a new power enabling it, or a sector regulator, to approve voluntary redress schemes intended to “provide compensation for those who have suffered loss as a result of competition law infringements without having to go to court.”
Announcing the new rule, CMA senior director Roland Green said: “It’s important that those who suffer harm from breaches of competition law are able to obtain effective redress. We hope this guide will help consumers and businesses understand how to do so.”
Last year the CMA fined a group of agents - all in the Three Counties Estate Agents group - sums ranging from £46,186 to £349,473 for cartel-like activity in their advertising of estate and letting agents’ fees in newspapers, which were also subject to fines.
More recently the CMA wrote an open letter to all agents regarding portal choices. A statement from the body said: “The move comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) became aware that some estate agents may be making joint decisions to join the OnTheMarket portal and to remove their business from competing portals, rather than reaching these decisions independently of each other. The CMA has also contacted some agents that it suspects may have been directly involved in such activity.”