In a recent judgement against MacAnthony Realty International (MRI) by the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFOPP):
“The tribunal were appalled to hear of the Company’s misleading business practices, including unfulfilled promises of guaranteed rental returns and misleading descriptions of the facilities that would be available to owners.
The Company accepted deposits for unbuilt and unidentified properties. In some cases a purchase price was not included in the documentation provided to buyers. These problems were compounded by the Company’s poor service, including their reluctance to resolve grievances after sales had been agreed
Despite these omissions, the Company’s position is that there is no right of cancellation by buyers, and therefore their deposits have not been returned to them. As a result members of the public have lost considerable sums of money resulting from false and enticing statements made by the Company.”
The full text of the judgement is below, and may be the subject of an appeal by MRI.
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF PROPERTY PROFESSIONALS
The Determination by the Disciplinary Sub-Committee of Case No. 52346
The Determination is dated: 2 September 2008
The Respondent: The Complainants:
Mr D MacAnthony
MacAnthony Realty International
C/Jancito Benavente S/N
Costa del Sol
1.1 The NFOPP Disciplinary Sub-Committee sitting as a Tribunal met at Arbon House on Wednesday 20 August 2008.
1.2 The Tribunal was chaired by Mr J F Atkins assisted by Mr I Lumbard and Mr M Hayward.
1.3 In attendance were Mr M D K Jones, the Business Practices Officer, Mr D Oliver, the Compliance Officer and Mr P Bolton King, the Federation’s Chief Executive.
1.4 The Complainant was in attendance at the hearing.
2. The Business Practices Officer alleged the following, breaches:
Rule 2(2) No member shall do any act (whether in the business of estate agency or otherwise) which:
– (h) involves unprofessional practice or practice that is unfair to members of the public.
Rule 2(3) A member who is a principal shall be responsible for the proper supervision of his partners, fellow directors and staff in the conduct of his business and shall be liable under these Rules of Conduct for any breaches as if such breaches had been committed by him.
Rule 6 Duty to abide by the aims and rules of the Association.
Rule 7(1) A member shall not seek business by methods which arc oppressive or involve dishonesty, deceit, or misrepresentation. Members shall not use any business term, name or initials which could cause contusion between their own business term, name or initials which could cause confusion between their own business and that of the Association. In pat Ocular, the word ‘HomeLink’ or the initials `NASA’ may only be used in their correct context with reference to the Association.
Rule 12 Duty to applicants and others.
The Federation’s Chief Executive entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the Respondent.
The Tribunal’s Decision
After hearing the evidence and after deliberation the Tribunal’s findings were:
Rule 2(2)(b) – Proven
Rule 2(3) – Proven
Rule 6 – Proven
Rule 7(1) – Proven
Rule 12 Proven
The Business Practices Officer advised that the member had no previous disciplinary record prior to the date of the hearing.
The Federation’s Chief Executive advised that no plea in mitigation had been received from the member, however; he did refer the Tribunal to previous correspondence received from the member and his legal representatives.
Rule 2(2)(b) – £1000
Rule 2(3) – £1000
Rule 6 – £1000
Rule 7(1) – £1000
Rule 12 – £1000
Costs – £163
The Tribunal made the following statement:
“We have today heard a number of complaints concerning the practices arid service of MRI International (the Company). Mr D MacAnthony is Chairman of the Company and he was a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) when the relevant breaches occurred. Rule 2(3) of the NAEA’s Rules of Conduct confirms that members are responsible for the conduct of their staff.
A number of the complainants attended the hearings to represent their cases and were questioned by the Disciplinary Sub-Committee (the Tribunal). The Tribunal were disappointed that despite a previous adjournment of the hearings at Mr MacAnthony’s request, neither Mr MacAnthony, nor a representative from the Company, nor a legal representative of the Company, were present at the hearings.
The Tribunal were appalled to hear of the Company’s misleading business practices, including unfulfilled promises of guaranteed rental returns and misleading descriptions of the facilities that would be available to owners. The Company accepted deposits for unbuilt and unidentified properties. In some cases a purchase price was not included in the documentation provided to buyers. These problems were compounded by the Company’s poor service, including their reluctance to resolve grievances after sales had been agreed.
Despite these omissions, the Company’s position is that there is no right of cancellation by buyers, and therefore their deposits have not been returned to them. As a result members of the public have lost considerable sums of money resulting from false and enticing statements made by the Company.
In all of the cases considered by the Tribunal the complainants were represented by Legal Independence/Martin Echevarria, who were recommended by the Company. Although the Tribunal’s considerations related to the Company and not the professional conduct of Legal Independence/Martin Echevarria, the Tribunal cannot emphasize too strongly the particular importance of independent legal advice when purchasers are considering purchasing overseas properties. The Tribunal is currently considering whether to take this matter further with the Law Societies /Bar Associations in the relevant countries
The complaints heard today were a sample of many more complaints received by the NAEA about the Company.
The irresponsible practices brought to light by these cases risk damaging consumer confidence and the reputation of estate agents working in the UK and overseas. The NAEA expects the highest standards of practice and ethics from its members. The level of the fines imposed reflect the seriousness with which the Tribunal views the behaviour of the Company, and therefore of Mr MacAnthony.
The NAEA has received a resignation of membership from the Company. As membership is individual and personal, the Tribunal understands the NAEA has presumed that Mr D MacAnthony has resigned. The Tribunal welcomes this development as they would have had no hesitation in terminating his membership in addition to the financial penalties imposed.”
Mr. J F Atkins FNAEA (Honoured)
Chairman – Disciplinary Sub-Committee
(See also MRI Overseas Property withdraws from NAEA)