Gascoigne Halman case for appeal against OTM ‘one other portal’ ruling criticised as ‘unwarranted and without merit’

Gascoigne Halman’s appeal against last year’s ruling that OnTheMarket’s ‘one other portal’ rule was not anti-competitive has been attacked as ‘unwarranted and without merit’.

The Connells brand is attempting to overturn the decision made by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).

Yesterday, a skeleton argument criticising Gascoigne Halman’s arguments was submitted to the Court of Appeal by legal representatives of OTM’s parent company Agents’ Mutual.

The document said Gascoigne Halman was “attempting to re-argue the merits of the case which the CAT determined after hearing extensive factual and expert evidence”.

The document rejects Gascoigne Halman’s claims put forward at court on Tuesday that the CAT judgement had mistakenly focused on the environment for a new market entrant.

It describes the allegations of error by the Tribunal as unwarranted.

Instead, the document argues, the Tribunal’s judgement assessed the legal and economic context for the ‘one other portal’  rule, and noted that Agents’ Mutual “was a weak new entrant without market power whose positions was weaker still by reason of the high barriers to entry in a two-sided market.

“In consequence, estate agents were under no compulsion to join AM and those that chose to do so retained the ability to advertise on a second portal of their choice.”

The document also notes that the CAT ruling found the ‘one other portal’ was pro-competitive as it would create a cheaper offering and meant established portals would “pay greater attention to the demands of estate agents subscribing or thinking of subscribing to Agents Mutual”.

There is also a rebuttal to Gascoigne Halman’s claims that OnTheMarket founder Ian Springett had not told the CAT that there were plans to drop the ‘one other portal’ rule, highlighting that it was stressed during the hearing that the rule would be kept under review.

The document said: “The fact that the need for the OOP rule to be revisited would therefore have come as no surprise to the CAT and it does not affect the conclusion as to what was necessary to achieve OnTheMarket’s entry at the time of launch.”

The document asks the court to dismiss the appeal and says Agents’ Mutual should be awarded costs of the case.

The hearing continues at the Court of Appeal and is due to finish today, with a judgement at a later date.

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  1. GPL

    ……and yet, as of 29 November 2019 myself and other OTM V1 Members are STILL locked-in to the “One Other Portal Rule”.
    One wonders where the fairness is in that situation? No Appeal Court for myself and others.    

    1. Ric

      Morning GPL, genuinely was not aware of that. I thought… correct me if I am wrong, the OOPR was dropped for all. You can chose to go on another i.e. all 3; but you get a discount if you stick with the OOPR?

      Were you not given that choice, or did I miss that bit in the 2 days I had to sign a billion page document… and I am still stuck on it?

      I assumed dropping a rule was dropping the rule and beyond that it was choice?

      1. smile please

        I think you had to sign up for a further 5 years. Then the rule was dropped and you were awarded shares.

        1. Ric

          ah, never noticed that bit… we were just “it is the only chance we have of ending the stronghold”.
          So for us, we had already invested and sticking with it, seemed logical, PLUS we would never ever go on 3 anyway…. one is enough, something I have always said… so for us it was just hoping the chance to have a decision where coming off one of them would not effect us.
          RM are pushing enough of my buttons this week that we are now at the stage that locally and with stock so low… what have we got to lose trying it now… ie drop them see what the impact is. Re-educate people why we have dropped them, explain we will still find serious buyers and all you are missing is the “digital carpet treaders” and RM leads are fewer than ever PLUS half the time it is poeple clicking a button and then never responding. I can spin any story I like, like RM do.
          Get viewings for vendors they will not question it, if buyers ask why are we not on, we will explain because buyers will do exactly what you have done and call us, or visit, or I will tell them go on OTM for the rest of the stock for sale by serious sellers with other agents locally.
          RM is full of dead stock whilst agents fight to be “market leader based on RM” RM have created this with their Market Share Certificates, easily minipulated and completely unfair to agents with more than one office in a smallish area. My conversations with RM yesterday were at best shocking. The attitude really is, they keep me my business going.
          I’ve had enough… we are allowing all of the portals to overshadow the work we do.

          1. smile please

            Have you cut all the extras yet Ric?
            Good place to start.
            Also I have a few multi agency offices near me putting all their stock through one account.
            If they can do it why not others?
            Feel free to tweet me and I can give you details if you want to use it against RM. 

            1. Ric

              all gone, did this about 18 months ago.
              We had nothing original so only tried Optimiser in 2016/2017, sold a right kipper. Did nothing, got nothing. We ran a test LHP saying “NO FEES FOR A LIMITED PERIOD” and even the rep said wow… nada, that’s interesting. Well not really…
              Featured property… gosh how we all love that annoying listing (even like Auto trader cars) which sit there at the top of hte page, out of your price budget and not what you want. GO AWAY featured property,
              Dropped it and we had a better listing year in 2017/2018.
              Had a few local agents talk to me recently about Optimiser, and I cannot understand why anyone thinks it will work. I stupidly did it, because we felt we were losing RM presence, yet without it, we picked it up again. Self beleif.
              Great Pictures, correct pricing, and the rest will follow, assuming you are getting those digital SSTCs on there and importantly the SOLD on your boards. We have more locals talking about our boards being everywhere again which for me is the best form of marketing for Valuations.

      2. GPL


        Evening Ric,

        Nope, if you Voted No and refused the New Deal then you were locked-in to the Original V1 Contract (despite V1 OTM being extinct) ……as I am until early 2019, then I am free to walk away.

        Scandalous way to treat V1 Members …..extremely hard not to view OTM’s action towards the V1 No Members as a signal of sorts ….how OTM V2 may treat those under future contracts?

        Nothing more to add as OTM have made Zero Effort to build bridges with those shackled so I will bid them farewell in 2019, having clearly been the honourable party!





    2. Property Poke In The Eye

      Totally unfair for the first agents who signed up .  This is where OTM could of united all the agents and built a proper following.


  2. Chatty Cathy

    The short answer to all of this is that Ian Springett is in it for himself and his band of merry men, all of them will earn a small fortune and don’t care who gets shafted along the way.

    I’ve seen more cohesion from a group of pensioners with dementia at a laser quest game.

  3. Woodentop

    RM have a one portal rule  …. they make it impossible to afford to go on another portal!

  4. scruffy

    Guys, we have all been shafted by RM and their pricing. Let’s all grow a pair and regain control of our marketing spend. Ditch RM and use your marketing budget on innovative (or even traditional) alternatives. Clever use of print media can really help in brand awareness.

    We’ll probably be doing the same with either OTM or ZPG in years to come as alternatives present themselves. Why would anyone allow themselves to be kicked each year, yet this is precisely what we have been doing and enough is enough.

  5. MTOM1

    I saw a post yesterday suggesting,allegedly,that Zoopla were helping Connells /GH funding the appeal or at least a large part of it f it goes the way we think it will.Is that true ? Makes you think whos worse really Righmove or Zoopla.

  6. HIT MAN


    Both are as bad as each other, OTM is the main threat to their duopoly, so allegations may be right!

  7. Property Poke In The Eye

    Robert May, this Rummage system.  Is this owned by you or will it be owned and run by estate agents?

  8. Robert May

    It is stakeholder owned; agents, house builders, the management and those who have helped me it possible.  Management and Stakeholders  do not yet a vote on the future of the system.  Agents and builders can choose to profit or protect their future.

    I have enough to see me to my grave, rummage4 is about building an equitable system for the industry not my own personal gain

  9. Thomas Flowers

    Indeed Woodentop and Robert May

    Increase pricing so much that many agents can only afford RM, particularly this year whilst many new OTM members are paying nothing?

    The real question after the 12-month freebie period is how many agents could then afford to pay to duplicate their listings on two or three portals?

    Unless a combination of OTM and/or Zoopla and ‘mediator’ sortal Rummage4 is much cheaper?

    However, all PLC portals will push for dominance in pricing that is why whatever choice agents make there needs to be some control by agents.

    Roll on Rummage4 your timing may be perfect.


  10. Robert May

    I’ve already been  censored (rightly) today but it’s enough to say if this was GBBO we’re about to nail the technical challenge and are looking forward to the show stopper!

  11. GPL

    Evening Robert, I emailed you/PeeBee direct a few weeks ago …….any response?
    I assess my 2019 marketing plan/spend before Christmas, so would be interesting to hear if I should be holding funds back for ?      

  12. Ric

    Evening Robert, might be time for us to chat… interested to know where you are up to also. Next week at some point, I will email you.


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