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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

"Interim" costs awarded in Agents' Mutual tribunal case

The Connells-owned agency Gascoigne Halman is to make a costs payment of £1.24m within 14 days to Agents’ Mutual - but that is not necessarily the end of the long-running dispute between the two parties.

The contractual issue at the heart of the Competition Appeals Tribunal dispute has been stayed pending an application for appeal. 

Last week Agents’ Mutual was the clear winner when the tribunal determined that the One Other Portal rule applying to agency members of the OnTheMarket portal was not anti-competitive; this was the chief result of a long-running legal battle between Agents’ Mutual and Gascoigne Halman. 

The £1.24m is described only as an “interim” payment. The final costs will be settled after any possible appeal by Connells’ Gascoigne Halman. A £1m payment lodged into court last year by Agents’ Mutual - at the time reported here - will be repaid to the company. 

Yesterday the tribunal reconvened as a case management conference to determine costs, but the issue could not be conclusively resolved ahead of a possible appeal.

An email sent last week to OnTheMarket member agents by Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett made it clear that the portal’s approach at the case management conference would be aggressive. 

It read: “The proceedings before the Tribunal have been running since July last year with the Trial completing in February. The manner in which our opponents conducted the case has caused us to divert considerable resources and management time, as was presumably intended by those who funded it, including Zoopla.”

Gascoigne Halman is a north of England agency which was an independent when it first joined OnTheMarket; then it was acquired by Connells and it joined Zoopla, effectively breaching the One Other Portal rule.

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