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Agents urged to watch for cartel red flags

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Agents are being asked to make themselves aware of ‘red flag’ behaviours as part of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) Cheating or Competing? campaign, which aims to help agents keep on the right side of competition law.

What to look out for

Discussing prices, rates or fees with a competitor
Businesses should never fix or discuss prices with their competitors. This is especially relevant when discussing potential future price changes or how different companies may react to changes in the market. Discussions about agreeing a common approach to pricing, or not to go below a minimum price, are also cartel behaviour.

Discussing customers or territories with a competitor
Any kind of agreement to share or restrict who can sell to who – whether based on geographic location, type of service or type of customer being sold to – is anti-competitive.

Discussing future plans
Competing businesses must not share competitively sensitive commercial information such as pricing intentions, business plans or marketing strategies.

Sharing other commercially sensitive information
Look out for people sharing information that isn’t in the public domain, such as a business’s costs, profit margins, sales volumes or production capacities.

Prices fluctuating across the board
If prices offered by competing companies seem to go up and down together in circumstances where you wouldn’t expect this, they could be illegally fixed.

Unusual things on pricing documents
For example, a document relating to price created by someone outside the organisation.

The Cheating or Competing? campaign follows a sustained CMA crackdown against illegal cartels, where they issued over £43 million in fines last year alone

Cheating or Competing?


The March/April issue of Property Professional magazine contains more information on the Cheating or Competing? campaign and what agents can to do protect themselves and their business from engaging in cartel behaviour. 

Property Professional magazine