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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Over 60 agencies to attend first OnTheMarket Action Group seminar

Over 60 estate agencies have signed up to attend the OnTheMarket Action Group seminar on Monday at which legal representatives will discuss issues connected with the portal. 

Another 25 have expressed interest in being involved in a possible class action or ongoing campaign which may emerge from the event, being held at Haymarket in central London.

Each agency attending has paid £50 to cover the costs of the venue, and the event has been organised by training consultant and former Countrywide and Romans manager Iain White, who set up the informal action group last month.

“We’ve got agencies from across the UK attending so it’s a national campaign” says White, who anticipates the number may rise with additional attendees expected to contact him over the weekend. 

The seminar’s aim, he says, is to explore legal options open to agents acting as a group, although any agreed course of action is unlikely to be made public after the event.

“In addition there are many other agencies involved in their own legal actions concerning their OnTheMarket contracts already. At this stage they’re not involved in any collective campaign as they are pursuing individual legal processes, so they’re not attending the Monday seminar. In time, some of them may join forces with this larger group” he says.

White believes there may be as many as 80 agencies either currently involved in some form of case-by-case contract renegotiation or legal dispute concerning OTM, or considering their own individual legal action.

White has again emphasised that the role of the group is not to recommend any agents to break their existing contacts with OTM.

Last weekend the action group set up its own website.

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    Judge: Did you break your contract?

    Agent: Yes

    Judge: Why did you break your contract?

    Agent: I didn't want to be in a cartel or break competition law m'lud

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    Except they are going to have to prove that they already knew they were entering a cartel. Not so easy. Also they could end up getting fined by the CMA for their 'confession'.

    Quite frankly, 60 out of the 1000s that have become members is not very impressive. The directors of these agencies should have realised that this was a serious long-term commitment. Crying about it now just suggested bad business judgement on their part.

    I was very comfortable not signing up to OTM for 5 years because I did not want that commitment

  • Trevor Mealham

    @ James
    Much like a person or company accepting advice or something is endorsed by a body such as NAEA shows support of AM/OTM - could be fair comment to a judge that an average agent thought they were joining a lawful collective.

    How many landlords would question their boiler service might be unsafe if the engineer was registered appearing as required

  • Lyn Burgoyne

    James, ditto! Crying over spilt milk! These agents took this course of action and not once did their moral compass kick in and tell them that by joining OTM with the stipulation to drop another portal would mean the destruction of another company! I remember a wise old owl stating in a meeting of agents that to join OTM would be financial suicide... you weren't wrong Mr W. How can agents that have signed these agreements now be back on Zoopla? but there are flocking back!

  • Trevor Mealham

    Facts are that AM and OTM register as two different companies.

    They have then colluded to create restraints on other agents (online only) and other digital platforms ie RM, Z and our own INEA. Embargoing these under AM/OTM collusion is unfair in an open market.

    The fear for an agent who joined AM at the mo must be that the OTM site claims:

    3. 100% agent-owned and agent-controlled
    * agent owned

    4. Each firm has an equal interest and voting right, irrespective of firm size
    * equal interest

    5. Open only to full-service, office-based estate and letting agents
    * restrains 'online only' agents which is anti-competitive

    http://www.agentsmutual.co.uk/

    Could you really blame worried agents as to meeting legal bods to see what advice they might have?

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    60 apparent upset agents, Last month alone OTM added 76 new branches. 60 out of almost 6,500 represents less than 1%

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    Smile Please.
    1%! Good on you for mentioning this.

    Trevor Mealham.
    * restrains 'online only' agents which is anti-competitive
    Or Is it? One of the things that OTM provides is a service which is restricted, among other things, in the sense that it is for agents with a visible presence where the public can meet the agent 'face to face'.
    Very important to many people?

    Trevor Mealham

    Surely, online only agents have to magically appear in some cases to do viewings, take the listing on etc etc.

    Many work from serviced offices etc etc.

    My preference agency model is Hg St offices. But equally be it Hg St or online only - both under UK/EU law have a right to trade. Why should a commercial digital platform have the right to ban them.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/520423/competition-law-redress-a-guide-to-taking-action-cma55.pdf

    In the above CMA paper, it part reads:

    Anti-competitive agreements – Article 101 and Chapter I prohibition
    2.3 Agreements between businesses which have as their object or effect the
    prevention, restriction or distortion of competition are prohibited and rendered void (and therefore unenforceable) under Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (CA98) and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

    If Am/OTM actions are found to be prosecutable, then their contracts with agents could become totally worthless.



     
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    Smile Please.
    1%! Good on you for mentioning this.

    Trevor Mealham.
    * restrains 'online only' agents which is anti-competitive
    Or Is it? One of the things that OTM provides is a service which is restricted, among other things, in the sense that it is for agents with a visible presence where the public can meet the agent 'face to face'.
    Very important to many people?

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    @ Ray Evans

    I guess i should have phrased it better. :)

    99% of the 6,500 agents with OTM are entirely happy with it.

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    60 plus agents paying £50.00 each for room hire and tea and coffee?

    Can we set up an action group of disgruntled agents to protest the fee for tea, coffee and room hire?

    Where does the extra resources go? Are people being paid for their services? Or is it fiscal gratitude for taking this valiant noble case to the big man upstairs (aka the agent controlled portal not trying to maintain a duopoly?).

    They should serve Irony sandwiches with the grand plus left over.

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    3k For a mornings hire of no doubt a Regus room with a bit of tea and coffee.

    All for agents complaining they are not getting value for money from a portal.

    IRONIC!

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    • T Y
    • 07 May 2016 10:00 AM

    Did always find it ironic that a big factor in all of this, was to combat online agents. So they did this by creating an online portal.. Regardless of which model you are, the best way to win in this competitive market, is give good service and offer real value/justification for your fee.

     
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