The Competition and Markets Authority has this afternoon taken the latest step in the lengthy case of an estate agency cartel.
This revolves around six agencies – all at the Burnham-on-Sea area in Somerset – agreeing in 2015 to fix their minimum commission at 1.5 per cent.
The CMA has now applied for court approval to disqualify two of the agencies' directors.
In April last year two other directors were disqualified over the scandal which resulted in five Somerset agencies being fined over £370,000 for secretly agreeing fees.
During the investigation, the CMA stated that some directors were actively involved in the cartel or were aware of it and failed to take any steps to stop it.
This new application for further disqualifications appears to be the latest step in penalising the directors.
Here’s this afternoon’s CMA statement in full:
On 26 February 2019 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued proceedings in the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts seeking the disqualification of two directors:
- Mr Michael Martin, formerly a director of Gary Berryman Estate Agents Limited, The Property Group (2010) Limited and Warne Investments Limited
- Mr Graham Thompson, formerly a director of Saxons PS Limited
The proceedings against both directors arose from the CMA decision on May 31 2017 that Gary Berryman Estate Agents Limited, Warne Investments Limited and Saxons PS Limited together with 4 other estate agencies, entered into an anti-competitive agreement to fix a minimum level of commission fees for the provision of residential sales services in the Burnham-on-Sea area.
The CMA issued these proceedings under section 9A of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 following an investigation into the directors’ conduct in relation to the breach of competition law.
It is now for the court to decide whether to make a disqualification order against each director.
Provided they continue to comply with the terms of their leniency agreement, the CMA will not seek the disqualification of the co-operating directors of 3 of the estate agents, which qualified for leniency under the CMA’s leniency policy.