The Competition Appeals Tribunal which is to investigate a dispute between OnTheMarket and two agencies is scheduled to hold its first meeting tomorrow.
It was reported last week that Agents’ Mutual, parent company of OnTheMarket, has sued Gascoigne Halman and Moline James for damages in the High Court.
AM accuses the agencies of breaking the terms of their agreements by listing properties on more than one other portal.
The agents contest this and the High Court has referred the case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, presiding over competition disputes. Its first meeting - known as a case management conference - is scheduled for tomorrow according to the Financial Times.
The newspaper says that in documents filed at the High Court, Agents’ Mutual has accused Gascoigne Halman of switching its listings to both Zoopla and Rightmove after it was acquired by Connells Group in October last year.
The newspaper says Gascoigne Halman had signed up for gold membership with Agents’ Mutual, meaning it helped to finance the portal through up to £54,000 of six-year loan notes. Agents’ Mutual contended it could not escape its five-year deal with the portal and should ensure other agencies within Connells complied as well.
But Gascoigne countered that the one other portal restriction was “void and unenforceable” because it constituted anti-competitive behaviour under the Competition Act 1998.
The outcome of the case is therefore considered a critical test of OTM’s controversial ‘one other portal’ rule for members.
The newspaper also claims that OnTheMarket has been ordered to pay £1m into court - three quarters of by early last week and the rest by the end of August.