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comply with competition law

Five estate agents in Somerset have been fined £370,000 by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for operating an illegal rate-fixing cartel.

The six estate agents attended a secret meeting where they agreed to set a minimum price of 1.5% commission for selling residential properties, preventing sellers from getting a better deal elsewhere. They took it in turns to police the agreement, sending emails if anyone 'cheated' on the rest.

A sixth estate agent was not fined because it was the first to inform the CMA of the agreement.

The CMA is clamping down on anti-competitive practices in the estate agency sector after a £735k fine in 2015.

Follow these tips to help create a level playing field and comply with competition law:

comply with competition law

  1. Take extra care at events where any of your competitors are present - it's always safest to avoid talking business with rivals.
  2. Avoid any conversations on pricing, strategy, territory and customers - you must decide and make business decisions independently. If discussions stray into topics that are off-limits, voice your objections and leave.
  3. Don't underestimate it - competition rules apply to small and big business. If you break the law, firms can be fined up to 10% of global turnover, and individuals may be banned or face imprisonment for up to 5 years.
  4. If you make a mistake, come clean about it - you may receive leniency and avoid sanctions if you speak up first.
  5. Report any concerns you have to the CMA's cartel's hotline - Email cartelshotline@cma.gsi.gov.uk or phone: 0800 085 1664 or 020 3738 6888. Remember you may avoid sanctions if you speak up first.

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