New reforms have been proposed to tackle industry practice with the competition watchdog’s own timetable on a suspected estate agency cartel close to running out of time.
The Competition and Markets Authority last year said that it would decide in, or by the end of, this month, whether to take its investigation forward to formal status.
It promised a “further update by the end of February 2019”.
It is almost a year since the CMA first made an announcement about its investigation.
There has been no information, other than that the probe was launched on the basis of information received following the Burnham-on-Sea case in 2013, when a number of agents were fined a total of £370,084 after agreeing to fix their commission rates.
Yesterday, the CMA announced proposals to intervene earlier and more robustly in cases where companies do not play by the rules, disadvantaging rivals and consumers.
It called for:
- a new statutory duty on the CMA, and courts applying competition and consumer laws, to treat the interests of consumers, and their protection from detriment, as paramount
- a new statutory duty on the CMA to conduct its investigations quickly, supported by powers to take action against firms supplying misleading or false information
- a statutory responsibility to address the adverse effect on the consumer in all aspects of the CMA’s markets work