Connells has told Estate Agent Today that it is not making any official comment yet on the decision revealed yesterday that it won leave to appeal against a ruling of the Competition Appeal Tribunal over the summer.
In July the CAT judges, after a lengthy consideration following the tribunal itself, decided that OnTheMarket’s ‘one other portal only’ rule was not anti-competitive.
The tribunal had been hearing a claim by OTM’s parent company, Agents’ Mutual, that Connells-owned agency Gascoigne Halman was in breach of contract.
However, yesterday the Court of Appeal Civil Division gave Connells the right to appeal, and if appropriate to raise fresh information during the hearing of that appeal, should it happen.
The Court of Appeal does not automatically grant leave to appeal, leading some observers to suggest there may be a strong case to be heard if an appeal is lodged by Connells.
All this comes as Agents’ Mutual is preparing for an imminent announcement about its IPO offering; the announcement, which may come in the extremely near future, is expected to name a possible share price, sum to be raised, and deadline for investors.
If an appeal goes against Agents’ Mutual, it could be costly - just as it is trying to convince people to invest in the challenger portal.
Back in July, after the CAT verdict was announced, it was agreed in court that Gascoigne Halman must pay £1,243,248 as an “interim amount” pending a definitive decision on costs.
Back then, Connells Group issued a statement hinting that it could appeal at some time in the future: “Gascoigne Halman is surprised and disappointed by today’s Competition Appeal Tribunal judgement. We are considering our position and will consequently not be making any further comment at this stage.”
Agents’ Mutual says it is making no comment about the decision yesterday.