Residential estate agency services in the Burnham-on-Sea area

The CMA found that 6 estate agents breached the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and imposed fines totalling £370,084.

Case reference: 50235

Case timetable

Date Action
18 September 2017 Publication of non-confidential version of infringement decision
31 May 2017 Final infringement decision issued to the parties
May 2017 Consideration of representations
28 April 2017 Draft penalty statement issued to non-settling party
April 2017 Receipt of written representations on the statement of objections
7 March 2017 Statement of objections issued
2 March 2017 Settlement announced
November 2016 Investigation continuing (further update by the end of February 2017)
June 2016 Decision taken to proceed with the investigation (further update by the end of November 2016)
December to June 2016 Initial investigation, including analysis and review of material
10 December 2015 Investigation opened

Non-confidential infringement decision and follow-up compliance work

18 September 2017: The CMA published a non-confidential version of the infringement decision in this case.

The CMA also published a short case study to help estate agents and other businesses understand more about illegal price-fixing and to encourage compliance with competition law.

Infringement decision

On 31 May 2017, the CMA issued a decision finding that 6 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 party, Annagram Estates Limited (trading as CJ Hole), has not been fined as it was the first undertaking to confess its participation in the arrangement under the CMA’s leniency policy and co-operated with the CMA’s investigation.

Fines for Abbott and Frost, Gary Berryman, Greenslade Taylor Hunt and West Coast include a discount to reflect savings due to their admissions and co-operation with the CMA under settlement agreements. Fines for West Coast and GTH also include reductions for leniency under the CMA’s leniency policy.

A non-confidential version of the decision will be published in due course.

Statement of objections

8 March 2017: On 7 March, the CMA issued a statement of objections alleging that 6 estate agents operating in the Burnham-on-Sea area breached competition law by taking part in a cartel agreement to fix prices in relation to the provision of residential estate agency services.

The allegations concern Abbott and Frost Limited, Annagram Estate Agents Limited (trading as ‘C J Hole’), Gary Berryman Estate Agents Ltd (and its parent company Warne Investments Limited), Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Saxons PS Limited and West Coast Property Services (UK) Limited.

This statement of objections followed the settlement announced on 2 March 2017, which saw 4 of the estate agents - Abbott and Frost Limited, Gary Berryman Estate Agents Ltd (and its parent company Warne Investments Limited), Greenslade Taylor Hunt and West Coast Property Services (UK) Limited - admit their participation in the illegal cartel and agree to pay fines. A fifth estate agent - Annagram Estate Agents Limited (trading as ‘C J Hole’) - has also confessed its participation in the arrangement but will not be fined, provided it continues to co-operate with the CMA’s investigation.

Settlement

2 March 2017: Four estate agents admitted participating in an illegal cartel in relation to the provision of residential estate agency services in the Burnham-on-Sea area. They also agreed to pay fines totalling a maximum of £372,233. This includes a discount to reflect resource savings to the CMA as a result of the companies’ admissions and their co-operation with the CMA’s investigation.

A fifth member of the cartel will not be fined – as long as it continues to co-operate – as it was the first company to confess its participation in the arrangement.

The CMA’s investigation into a sixth company continues and no assumption should be made that it has infringed the law.

Case information

This investigation has been launched on the basis of information received after compliance work undertaken following a previous CMA investigation into the advertising of fees in the estate and letting agency sector.

The investigation concerns a suspected infringement or infringements of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (CA98).

Changes to the timing of original entries in the case timetable will be made where the estimated timing in the original timetable changes.

Contacts

Team leader

Rebecca Threlfall (020 3738 6289, rebecca.threlfall@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Joint project directors

Juliette Enser (020 3738 6857, juliette.enser@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Tamara Todorovic (020 3738 6598, tamara.todorovic@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Senior responsible officer

Stephen Blake (020 3738 6469, stephen.blake@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Published 11 December 2015
Last updated 18 September 2017 + show all updates
  1. Non-confidential infringement decision and follow-up compliance work published.
  2. Infringement decision issued.
  3. Timetable updated.
  4. Statement of objections issued.
  5. Settlement announced.
  6. Timetable updated.
  7. Timetable updated.
  8. First published.