TPO to review sellers’ complaint about being chased for payment by agent that did not sell their home

The Property Ombudsman is to conduct an internal review of the case whereby it rejected a complaint by sellers being chased for a claim for a fee by Palmer Snell.

The review comes after EYE explicitly expressed concerns as, after the TPO ruling, Weymouth county court subsequently ruled that Palmer Snell, a Countrywide brand, had no claim to a fee because it was not an effective cause of the transaction.

An earlier case, in the Court of Appeal in which Foxtons was involved, set the precedent ten years ago by which to claim a fee, agents must demonstrate that they have introduced the buyer to the deal, not just to the property.

Palmer Snell had suggested that the couple who turned out to be the eventual buyers should view the home. However, the sellers rejected this: no viewing took place because the sellers said the would-be purchasers still had two homes of their own to sell and were in no position to proceed.

The property in question went on to be sold by a second instructed agent, Fortnam Smith and Banwell, after the buyers’ situation changed.

While the court ruling means that George and Hilary Wood do not have to pay the Palmer Snell fee of nearly £8,000, the couple say they are out of pocket through legal fees.

EYE asked TPO if in the light of the latest court ruling, it would be reviewing the Woods’ case. A number of readers, in posts, made it clear they felt the TPO’s decision was incorrect, alleging that legal precedent had been ignored.

Yesterday Jane Erkine, deputy ombudsman, said: “TPO came to a decision based on the evidence provided by both parties and therefore do not share the view that the decision was wrong.

“However, TPO will undertake an internal review of the case file and study the transcript before coming to an informed view.”

EYE will keep close tabs on this one and will urge TPO to make the outcome fully reportable.

There is a second TPO ruling which has also raised concerns among our readers, and again we will be pressing on this, while fully recognising that we do not know the evidence called for by, or submitted to, TPO, let alone know both sides of the story.



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  1. Robert May

    It will be interesting to find out what evidence was provided to TPO that was subsequently withheld from the court case.

  2. RealAgent

    “We will carry out a review but the decision was not wrong“

    In one sentence this sums up why the TPO is not fit for purpose. To have the arrogance to say you were right even before a review, makes the process itself a mockery. Classic organisation filled with individuals drunk on the power they believe they hold.

    Why not actually try and gain some respect by admitting you possibly got it wrong and are undertaking an impartial review of the case and findings.

  3. Shaun77

    Given most agents are aware of the legal precedent that exists after the much publicised Foxtons case (with the obvious exception of Countrywide) the question has to be why were the TPO not aware of it?
    If they were, why did they believe this case to be different?

    1. Richard Porter

      I remember Christopher Hamer being very vocal about the Foxtons case at the time, and going as far as to offer advice and guidance to estate agents on fee entitlement.

      Sorry to link to EAT, but here’s an article in 2008 which would I would suggest is pretty embarrassing for TPO!


  4. Woodie0636

    How can a deputy ombudsman look into the decision of the ombudsman and over rule the decision made by the ombudsman they might as well give the file to the cleaner and ask their opinion on it if it was not so serious it would be laughable.

  5. Ostrich17

    TPoS is not fit for purpose – easily influenced by the Corporates and their slippery associates.

    Maybe we can replace it with online complaints handling process.

    Simply post the complaint and evidence(redacted for names/addresses) to a secure site and let PIE readers decide with a thumbs up or down – a modern version of the Coliseum !

    1. RAL

      TPoS is not fit for purpose – easily influenced by the Corporates and their slippery associates…… Perfectly put

  6. PeeBee

    Testing… testing…

    Can anyone else not attach replies to individual comments?

  7. Nick Salmon, M.D. Property Industry Eye

    Seems there is a tech issue. We are on it.

  8. PeeBee

    I’ve alerted Frau Renshaw & Co – she will be beating the living cr@p out of the EYE TechMeister as I post this… ;o)

    1. PeeBee

      Problem now corrected – THANK YOU!!

  9. Estate_Agent_Memes

    If your paperwork/terms of business are watertight clearly stating that ANY kind of introduction will mean commission is due, simply start an online money claim. TPO generally will bow out once a court date is set.


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