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Agents’ Mutual v Gascoigne Halman expected back in court this week over costs

Agents’ Mutual and Connells Group brand Gascoigne Halman are due back in court this week.

The case management conference on Wednesday follows up last week’s unanimous judgment by the Competition Appeal Tribunal that Agents’ Mutual had not broken competition law on any count.

Laying out its conclusions, the Tribunal panel said the ‘one other portal’ rule was ‘objectively necessary’ (page 162) and ‘pro-competitive’ (page 150) because it increased competition between Rightmove and Zoopla to become the remaining portal choice for estate agent customers (page 150).

The Tribunal also judged that Agents’ Mutual was not breaching competition law by not allowing online-only agents to list at OnTheMarket, and with its ‘exclusivity’ for properties new to the market.

The Tribunal now looks to be acting very fast to resolve the issues of costs.

The anticipated list of matters to be covered on Wednesday will include issues of costs and directions in the light of the judgment for the hearing of the remaining non-competition issues with Gascoigne Halman.

Last July, it was reported that Agents’ Mutual was ordered to pay £1m into court as security for Gascoigne Halman’s costs should the latter have won. This week’s hearing will have before it a claim by Agents’ Mutual to recover both costs and losses, as well as this deposit money. Gascoigne Halman did not have to pay money into court.

Cost budgets agreed in court were £1.8m for Agents’ Mutual, and £2.8m for Gascoigne Halman. However, it is believed that actual costs incurred by both parties have exceeded agreed costs.

NEWS FLASH: Agents’ Mutual ordered to pay £1m into court

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