Estate agents disqualified as directors over price fixing cartel
Two estate agents have been disqualified from being directors after they took part in a price fixing cartel.
The move follows an investigation last year that resulted in five Somerset estate agents being fined more than £370,000 for secretly agreeing between themselves the fees they charged.
David Baker and Julian Frost were, at the time, both directors of Abbott and Frost Estate Agents Ltd in Burnham-on-Sea. This was one of a group of estate agents who agreed to fix their minimum commission rates at 1.5%, so denying local home owners the chance of getting a better deal when selling their property.
During the investigation the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that several directors were actively involved in the cartel or were aware of it and failed to take steps to stop it.
Mr Baker and Mr Frost have been disqualified from being directors and being involved in the management of any UK company. Mr Baker has been disqualified for 3.5 years, and Mr Frost has been disqualified for 3 years.
The CMA has the power to seek the disqualification of an individual from holding company directorships, under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, where they have been director of a company which has breached competition law and their conduct makes them unfit to be a director.
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.
“Company directors have an important responsibility to ensure that their companies don’t engage in illegal anti-competitive practices.”
Please contact Sing Li if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of competition law and directors’ duties.