London agent Ns Suthakaran, the manager director of Karan Fossils agency, has written to OnTheMarket parent company Agents' Mutual seeking to quit his commitment for fear of reprisals from the UK's Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) Estate Agent Today reports.
Earlier in the month, the CMA sent an open letter to agents and property portals warning of still consequences for breaking competition law.
The letter stated, in part that the CMA had become "aware that some estate agents may be making joint decisions to join the OnTheMarket portal and to remove their business from competing portals, rather than reaching these decisions independently of each other."
It also said it had contacted some agents that it suspects may have been directly involved in such activity and warned Estate agents found to have breached competition law can be fined up to 10 per cent of their annual worldwide turnover, and directors of infringing companies can be disqualified from UK company directorships for up to 15 years.
In addition, individuals involved in certain cartel activity, such as agreements between estate agents to fix prices or allocate markets, may be prosecuted under the criminal cartel offence and could go to prison for up to 5 years and/or have to pay an unlimited fine.
The letter from Suthakaran, obtained by Estate Agent Today says in part:
"OPEN LETTER GIVING NOTICE TO QUIT FOLLOWING THE CMA LETTER WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT
Thank you for your letter dated 21st April. I do not agree that Agents Mutual has given consistent advice.
Your letter states that Agents' Mutual has been building a pro-competitive business. As such to join I and other estate agency business owners had to abide by your rules to:
1. drop various main stream portals (anti-competitive)
2. join a movement that banned online only agents which we now feel is anti-competitive.
By attending your meetings and agreeing with other agents to abide by your anti-competitive rules, in view of the CMA letter (21st April, 2016) the CMA strongly state that agents colluding could break competition law.
WITH THIS I MUST CEASE WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT ANY FURTHER SUPPORT OF AGENTS MUTUAL AND ONTHEMARKET"
A spokesperson for OnTheMarket told Estate Agent Today: "We note this agent's decision to publish an open letter at this time. It is also of note that this agent's properties have not been displayed at OnTheMarket since December 2015, when it was evident that they were being advertised on more than one other portal. We do not believe it would be appropriate to comment further via the media on our contractual arrangements with this agent."