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    05-02-2019

    Eversheds Sutherland achieves further court win for Agents’ Mutual

    Eversheds Sutherland has secured a further win for client Agents’ Mutual, this time in the Court of Appeal in the ongoing high profile competition case: Agents’ Mutual LTD v Gascoigne Halman.

    Background

    Agents’ Mutual is an organisation owned by its estate agent members which established OnTheMarket (OTM), a new entrant into the UK’s online property portal market, to compete with established providers such as Zoopla and Rightmove. Gascoigne Halman is a chain of estate agents that became a member of Agents’ Mutual and listed its properties on OTM.

    The agreements between Agents’ Mutual and its member agents contained a key term which Agents’ Mutual considered was necessary to enable it to break into the online property portal market, namely that agents would only list their properties on OTM and one other competing portal.

    Having listed with OTM for some time, Gascoigne Halman breached its agreement with Agents’ Mutual by listing its properties on OTM, Zoopla and Rightmove, alleging that the one other portal rule (and other terms in the agreement) were anti-competitive.

    Gascoigne Halman challenged OTM’s ‘one other portal’ rule in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in 2017, with the CAT unanimously concluding that the competition issues in the case should be determined in favour of Agents’ Mutual.

    Gascoigne Halman appealed the CAT’s decision. The Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in favour of Agents’ Mutual/OTM.

    The Eversheds Sutherland competition team, led by competition litigation Partner, Lesley Farrell, has been advising Agents’ Mutual from the outset.

    Lesley Farrell commented:

    “This is exactly the result we were looking for and we could not be more pleased. Once again, the decision was unanimous and we are delighted to have been able to support Agents’ Mutual on such an significant matter.“

    Ian Springett, Chief Executive of Agents’ Mutual commented:

    “Prior to entering the market, we took advice from Eversheds Sutherland on our strategy and, in particular, the potential competition law issues surrounding it.

    “Having executed the strategy with growing success, we were faced with a challenge to a core element of it from a very well-funded and determined party which was at the time a major shareholder in one of our competitors and which received support and partial funding for the litigation from that competitor.

    “Eversheds Sutherland has supported us every step of the way in defending ourselves from this challenge, and were determined to secure yet another positive result. Lesley and the team did not disappoint. They have provided excellent legal advice throughout and an outstanding all-round level of support. We are very happy with this outcome.”

    The Eversheds Sutherland team was recognised for its outstanding work on the case in 2018 when the team was named Competition Team of the Year at the Legal Business Awards.

    Disclaimer

    This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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