The Competition and Markets Authority - which yesterday announced it had disqualified two estate agency directors for their parts in a price-fixing cartel - has now revealed that it’s seeking the disqualification of a further agency boss.
The authority says: “The CMA is also currently seeking director disqualifications in two further separate proceedings before the court. One in relation to its probe into Residential estate agency services in the Burnham-On-Sea area …”
[The second disqualification is not related to the agency industry.]
The Burnham-On-Sea cartel relates all the way back to a decision taken by the authority on May 31 2017 that six estate agents had infringed competition law.
The CMA imposed fines totalling £370,084 on Abbott and Frost Estate Agents Limited, Gary Berryman Estate Agents Ltd (and its ultimate parent company Warne Investments Limited), Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Saxons PS Limited and West Coast Property Services (UK) Limited.
The sixth agency - Annagram Estates Limited (trading as CJ Hole) - was not fined as it was the first undertaking to confess its participation in the arrangement under the CMA’s leniency policy, and it subsequently co-operated with the CMA’s investigation.
In February 2019 the CMA began court proceedings against two directors in relation to the Burnham-On-Sea cartel; they were Graham Thompson (former director of Saxons PS Ltd) and Michael Martin (formerly a director of Gary Berryman Estate Agents Limited, The Property Group (2010) Limited and Warne Investments Limited).
Two months later the proceedings against Thompson were halted following an undertaking from him that he would not act as a director of a company for five years.
It is therefore the proceedings against Martin that remain outstanding.
Yesterday’s disqualifications related to another cartel case in which, from 2008 to 2015, a group of agents conspired together to set minimum rates for commission on the sale of homes in the Wokingham, Winnersh, Crowthorne, Bracknell and Warfield areas of Berkshire.