The Competitions and Markets Authority is investigating a suspect infringement of the Competition Act 1998 by estate agents.
Few details have been released by the CMA so far but a statement this morning reads:
"The investigation concerns a suspected infringement(s) of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (CA98).
"The investigation has been launched on the basis of information received following the decision of the CMA in a previous investigation in the sector: Residential estate agency services in the Burnham-on-Sea area.
"This case is at an early stage and no assumption should be made that the CA98 has been infringed. The CMA has not reached a view as to whether there is sufficient evidence of an infringement of competition law for it to issue a statement of objections to any of the parties under investigation. Not all cases result in the CMA issuing a statement of objections.
"If the CMA issues a statement of objections, it will provide the addressee(s) of that statement of objections with an opportunity to make written and oral representations."
The Burnham case in 2015 involved four Somerset estate agents who agreed to pay over £370,000 to the CMA after admitting illegal price-fixing.
Abbott and Frost Limited, Gary Berryman Estate Agents Ltd (and its parent company Warne Investments Limited), Greenslade Taylor Hunt and West Coast Property Services (UK) Limited admitted breaking competition law by taking part in a price-fixing cartel in the Burnham-on-Sea area.
The authority said at the time that another company, Annagram Estate Agents Limited (trading as C J Hole), was involved but not fined - “as long as it continues to co-operate” – as it was the first company to confess its participation in the cartel.