The full judgement in the case Competition and Markets Authority v Michael Christopher Martin has been published.
Running to 123 paragraphs it is an extensive document that takes quite some time to read.
However, it is well worth reading if you want a graphic illustration of how the process of law dissects, analyses, and tests evidence.
Given that it is a case involving estate agencies – and is arguably one that has been used to very publicly discourage the formation of agency cartels – it has great relevance to the industry and those working in it.
In summarising mitigating factors in the conduct of now-disqualified director, Michael Martin, the judge said:
I find mitigation in Mr Martin’s previous good character as a director over many years within not insubstantial businesses.
He has not worked since July 2018 and has retired due to ill health.
He has not been a director since October 2018.
On the other hand, I must note the findings made which are contrary to his evidence and his denials of the conduct which I have found occurred.
Also, his stated knowledge of competition law.
Returning to matters in favour of mitigation, they include the steps taken by Berrymans following the CMA’s inspection whether with or without legal advice.
I note in that context the compensation scheme to which Mr Martin refers.
Whilst positive mitigation, this perhaps also draws attention to the serious financial effects a cartel such as this will have had on ordinary people selling their most valuable asset often in the context of needing funds to provide for a new home.
That is in the context of a 13-month period which would have affected significant personal funds of clients.
Taking all such matters into account including all the other matters raised in submissions, I have decided 7 years is the appropriate length for disqualification.
In reaching that figure I have borne in mind in particular the seriousness of the findings of misconduct in the context of the sale of houses/homes when estate agents have to be trusted by vendors.
The judge also awarded costs and ordered an interim payment of £100,000