Countrywide Estate Agents: ruling on definition of ‘introduction’ for commission fees

A recent claim by Countrywide Estate Agents, who issued proceedings against a Mr and Mrs Wood, following the sale of their property via an alternative agent provides some guidance concerning commission fees charged by agents.  

Countrywide had proposed Mr and Mrs Luckcraft as potential buyers of the property but Mr and Mrs Wood declined to allow Mr and Mrs Luckcraft to view the property because Mr and Mrs Luckcraft still had two homes to sell.  As a result of no sale being progressed via Countrywide, Mr and Mrs Wood appointed an alternative agent, Fortnam Smith & Banwell. Mr and Mrs Luckcraft later viewed the property via Fortnum Smith & Banwell following change in circumstances.

On sale of the home, Countrywide sought to recover a commission fee from Mr and Mrs Woods which they refused to pay. Mr and Mrs Woods complained to the Property Ombudsman initially who rejected their complaint albeit when Countrywide issued proceedings at the County Court, the Court determined against Countrywide on the basis of prior case law which made the distinction that to claim a fee an agent had to prove it had introduced the buyer to the “transaction” and not just to the property.

The countrywide judgment will hopefully provide some certainty for future Defendants faced with claims by agents seeking to recover fees where there has been an apparent duplication of introduction.  That the relevant “introduction” for the purposes of an agent claiming a fee is that which resulted in the transaction. This case is likely to also have relevance to similar businesses such as recruitment agents in addition to the property industry.

If you have any queries in relation to this article, please do not hesitate to contact the Civil Litigation Team on 01702 3338338 or civil@paulrobinson.co.uk