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89/09 24 July 2009
The OFT has issued a prohibition order banning a Buckinghamshire estate agent from estate agency work.
John Jeffrey, of High Wycombe has been banned after he was convicted of an offence of theft against his former employer, the Frost Partnership. Jeffrey, 49, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment at Aylesbury Crown Court on 17 March 2009.
The OFT adjudicator noted that the offence was planned and, according to the judge, took place over a number years and was for Mr Jeffrey's personal gain. The adjudicator said his activities posed significant risks for consumers and he is unfit to practise estate agency.
Mike Haley, OFT Director of Consumer Protection, said:
'This was a serious offence and a reminder to all estate agents that by engaging in acts of fraud or other dishonesty they are likely to face a ban from the profession. We take any complaints about estate agents very seriously and will take action to ensure consumer protection and confidence.'
The OFT's online version of its public register listing estate agents who have been warned or been banned can be viewed at the Estate Agents Public Register page.
1. The OFT can bar from estate agency work a person who has committed certain specified offences involving fraud, other dishonesty or violence, or who has committed racial or sexual discrimination in the course of estate agency work, or who has failed to comply with the requirements placed on estate agents by the Estate Agents Act and is unfit to carry on estate agency work.
2. Before a Prohibition Order is issued, the person concerned has the right to make representations to the OFT as to why the Order should not be made. If these representations are unsuccessful, subsequent appeal can be made to the Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, on behalf of the Secretary of State.
3. Adjudicators issue and determine Prohibition and Warning Notices under the Estate Agents Act. They do so on behalf of the OFT, but make individual and independent decisions on fitness based upon the contentions in a Notice, the evidence attached to a Notice and the representations of those to whom the Notices are addressed. Representations may be made in writing and at an oral hearing.
4. An adjudicator determined that Mr Jeffrey was unfit to carry on estate agency work. A Prohibition Order was made on 22 June 2009. Mr Jeffrey was given 28 days to appeal but has not exercised this right.
5. After an Order has been made, the person affected can at any time, and on payment of a fee, currently £2,500, apply to the OFT for the Order to be varied or revoked.
6. The Estate Agents Act 1979 covers anyone who, in the course of business, is engaged in 'estate agency work'. This means introducing to someone else a person who wishes to buy, sell or lease land or property, and being involved in negotiating the subsequent deal. The work must be in the course of business, whether as employer or employee, and as a result of instructions from a client. The land or property may be commercial, industrial, agricultural or residential. This does not include acting as a letting agent.
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