Connells’ brand Gascoigne Halman has lost its appeal against OnTheMarket.
Gascoigne Halman challenged OTM’s old ‘one other portal’ rule at the Competition Appeal Tribunal in 2017, and the issue was taken to the Court of Appeal in the autumn.
In the 2017 ruling, won comprehensively by OTM, the portal was awarded £1.2m as an interim payment towards its litigation costs; it is thought that last year’s move to the Court of Appeal was a bid by the Connells brand to limit the financial consequences of the Competition Appeal Tribunal decision.
In response to the Court of Appeal decision in OTM’s favour, the portal issued a statement to shareholders saying: “The Board of OnTheMarket plc notes that the Court of Appeal has today issued judgment in favour of its wholly-owned subsidiary Agents' Mutual Ltd with regard to all the competition issues in its proceedings against Gascoigne Halman.
“As the major part of its defence against our claim of breach of contract, Gascoigne Halman, led by its parent Connells Group and with funding from Zoopla, had alleged that Agents' Mutual's contract with them was void for illegality on competition law grounds.
“Following a 10-day hearing, the Competition Appeal Tribunal issued a unanimous judgment in July 2017 which rejected those arguments and supported the view consistently held by the Board of Agents' Mutual and OnTheMarket that the Company's strategy for entry to the portals market has been pro-competitive and that the Company has operated within the law.
“The Court of Appeal has today unanimously and comprehensively dismissed the appeal by Gascoigne Halman of the Tribunal's findings.
“Whilst the residual non-competition issues relating to our claim remain to be resolved, OnTheMarket emerges from this stage of the litigation stronger and as committed as ever to delivering a market-leading, agent-backed alternative to Rightmove and Zoopla, continuing to inject much-needed competition in the portals market, offering a first-class service to agents at sustainably fair prices and becoming the go-to portal for serious property-seekers.”