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Glasgow Estate Agents Stop Breaching The Law

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Thought you folks might be interested in this press release from the Office of Fair Trading...


Following action by the OFT two directors and one former manager of Countrywide North Limited, the Scottish subsidiary of Countrywide plc, the largest estate agency group in the UK, have been required to change their conduct and be more transparent in their dealings with consumers. Mairi Eckford, Managing Director, Michael Miller, Sales Director, and Stuart Black, ex-Area Manager have given undertakings to the OFT that they will comply with the provisions of the Estate Agents Act and the Estate Agents (Undesirable Practices) Order. They have breached these provisions by failing to disclose their personal interest in new build properties that they had bought and were selling via Countrywide. They will ensure that in the future they will promptly disclose to their clients in writing when they or a connected person have an interest in the sale of any property.

Countrywide plc and all the named individuals have fully co-operated with the OFT.

The estate agency market in the UK is estimated to be worth around £5.3 billion per year in gross income. Countrywide Estate Agents is the largest estate agency business in the UK with a turnover of £536.6 million per year.

Action was taken by the OFT following the receipt of information from a former employeee of Countrywide North in June 2004.

Christine Wade, Director of Consumer Regulation Enforcement, said: 'Estate agents must be transparent in their dealings with consumers. The OFT will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that estate agents meet their legal obligations and consumers can deal with them in confidence.'

If an agent breaches undertakings given to the OFT, the OFT may seek an Enforcement Order from the court. If the agent then breaches the Enforcement Order, this would amount to contempt and could be punished by a fine and/or imprisonment.

If any of these individuals were found to have committed the same or similar breaches again, the OFT could also alternatively consider banning them from estate agency work.

The OFT has obtained undertakings from six estate agents and one estate agency business and has decided to ban seven estate agents and warn three estate agents and two estate agency businesses so far in 2005.


1. The OFT sought undertakings under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 which came into force on 20 June 2003. The Enterprise Act improves consumer protection by giving enforcers strengthened powers to obtain court orders or undertakings against traders that breach a range of consumer legislation; controlling activities such as misleading advertising, misleading price indications, lotteries, sale of goods and services, underage sales, estate agency, misleading health claims, trade descriptions, mock auctions, timeshare, unfair terms in consumer contracts, doorstep selling, distance selling, package travel and consumer credit.

2. The Estate Agents Act 1979 and related subordinate legislation covers anyone who, in the course of business, is engaged in 'estate agency work'.

3. Under section 21 of the Estate Agents Act, a person who is engaged in estate agency work and has a personal interest in any land shall not enter into negotiations with any prospective purchaser with respect to the acquisition or disposal by that person of any interest in that land until the estate agent has disclosed to that person the nature and extent of his personal interest in it.

4. Under the Estate Agents (Undesirable Practices) (No. 2) Order 1991 (Article 2(a) and paragraph 2 of Schedule 1), an estate agent must disclose to his client promptly and in writing that he himself or any connected person has, or is seeking to acquire, a beneficial interest in the land or in the proceeds of sale of any interest in the land.

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They should be in jail. And what does OFT do? Wrap them lightly on the knuckles. No wonder the entire property industry is a joke, and Uk property is the inflated laughing stock of the rest of Europe.


Edited by VacantPossession

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