New Zealand Law Society - $1.05 million price fixing penalty for Online Realty Ltd

$1.05 million price fixing penalty for Online Realty Ltd

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The Commerce Commission says Hamilton real estate agency Online Realty Ltd (trading under the Ray White banner) has been ordered to pay a penalty of $1.05 million for its part in a national anti-competitive price fixing case.

The Commerce Commission filed proceedings in December 2015 alleging 13 national and regional real estate agencies including Online Realty breached the Commerce Act by entering into anti-competitive agreements in response to Trade Me changing its property listing fee.

Online Realty admitted it agreed with the other defendants to pass on the cost of listing on Trade Me to vendors in response to Trade Me changing its listing fee from a monthly subscription to a per listing fee. Online Realty also admitted unlawful price fixing by agreeing with the others that vendors’ existing listings would be removed from Trade Me.

The High Court said that while Online Realty was not a ringleader in the case, the conduct has brought a significant and lasting change to the market, with the majority of Hamilton real estate agents continuing to pass on the cost.

The Commission says so far the case has seen more than $18.97 million in court-imposed penalties. The remaining defendants in the case are due to go to trial in September 2017.