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Estate agent cartel directors disqualified over price fixing

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  • 10/04/2018
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Estate agent cartel directors disqualified over price fixing
Two directors who ran an estate agent that was part of a cartel found guilty of fixing commission rates have been disqualified by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA).

 

David Baker and Julian Frost were directors of Abbott and Frost Estate Agents Ltd. in Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset.

The firm was one of a group that agreed to secretly fix their minimum commission rates at 1.5%, an investigation by the CMA last year found.

Baker has been barred from being involved from being a director of any UK company, with a disqualification of 3.5 years, while Frost has been banned for three years.

Five estate agents in Somerset that fixed fees were last year fined more than £370,000 for breaking competition law.

 

Cartel stopped people shopping around

The watchdog said the cartel denied local home owners the chance of getting a better deal when selling their property.

The CMA’s investigation found a number of directors were either involved in the cartel or aware of it and failed to take any steps to stop it.

Disqualifications are being considered against the directors of other companies involved in the fee-fixing agreement.

Michael Grenfell, executive director for enforcement at the CMA, said: “Agreeing prices with competitors is one of the most serious ways a company can break competition law, as it harms individuals, businesses and the economy.

“When, as in this case, estate agents agreed among themselves commission fee rates, the effect is to stop people from shopping around for the best deal on one of the biggest financial decisions any of us make – selling a house.

“Company directors have an important responsibility to ensure that their companies don’t engage in illegal anti-competitive practices.

“Today’s news should send a clear message to directors that if their companies breach competition law they risk personal disqualification.”

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