ESPC slams fair trade referral

ESPC is a company run by solicitors which displays details about houses for sale. The DGFT is concerned about the centre's policy of preventing members from submitting property details if an estate agent is also advertising the property.

Sir Bryan says this discourages home-owners from placing properties with both an estate agent and a solicitor.

He adds that it is particularly worrying because the ESPC is estimated to have more than 80 per cent of the domestic market in Edinburgh.

But Clark says the ESPC simply operates as a display facility, while the company's 230 member firms “actively compete” with one another.

He says that pooling resources to share the cost of displaying properties for sale increases the number of firms involved in the market and enables them to offer consumers a better deal.

Clark says: “We attract 6,000 to 8,000 visitors to the George Street showroom every week. We offer convenience. We offer value for money with a one-off advertising fee of u130. How can a claim that the ESPC is acting against the public interest be taken seriously?

“I am disappointed that this matter is to be brought to court. While I'm quite confident that our position will be vindicated, it'll be a time-consuming and costly exercise, and for what?”

The ESPC has four branch offices and the Glasgow Solicitors Property Centre was set up one year ago.