Competition law breach: Hefty sanctions for local estate agents

With all the recent focus on GDPR as the big area of legal compliance, it is easy to forget and overlook other important areas - competition law being one of them. The fines for non-compliance with competition law can be up to 10% of turnover compared to the 4% of turnover for breach of GDPR (or €20 m). To be honest, we are probably some way off seeing large fines at the top end of the scale for breach of GDPR. Competition law, however, is far more mature and it is not uncommon to see eye-watering fines in this area.

competition law A recent example involved 6 estate agents in the small Somerset town of Burnham-on-Sea (population less than 20,000) who conspired to agree a minimum commission rate that they would all charge. This deprived local home owners of the chance of shopping around to get a better deal on the commission rate when selling their property. Even though the number of people affected by this anti-competitive behaviour was extremely small, the estate agents were fined £370,000 in total.

Worse still for two of the directors of the estate agents involved. The Competition and Markets Authority (the UK regulator for competition law) sought directors disqualification orders. Those proceedings have now been settled and the directors involved have given disqualification undertakings not to act as a director of any UK company for 3 years and 6 months and 3 years respectively.

Ifalways seek knowledge and advice you are thinking of entering any sort of business deal with a competitor, it is crucial to take legal advice. Regulators view arrangements between competitors with suspicion. Even if your deal is in all innocence, a regulator may see it very differently.

At Jordans Corporate Law we regularly advise organisations on staying on the right side of competition law in their business deals. Please contact Simon Bates or Helen Wright for further information about how they can help your business.
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