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    Estate agent has duty to advise client on changes in market

    An estate agent had a duty to inform and advise his client about any significant changes in market conditions.

    Judge Heppel, QC, so held in the Queen’s Bench Division, on December 16, 2002 when allowing a counterclaim by Michael-John Knatchbull against John D Wood Ltd, property agents, for negligent advice when selling his property in west London for £1.5 million.

    John D Wood brought the claim, seeking to recover the commission due from Mr Knatchbull. Mr Knatchbull said that a property nearby had been sold for £1.8 million and alleged that he had been given negligent advice.

    HIS LORDSHIP said that although an agent could not be under a duty to bring to his client’s attention every scrap of information, there was a duty to inform him of and advise upon any significant changes in the market.

    Any vendor would be concerned at the price of a neighbouring property and would want to discuss it with his agent.

    The information that a neighbouring property was marketed at a significantly higher price should have been conveyed to the client as soon as possible, but was not. That omission caused the client to continue with his sale and deprived him of the chance to sell at a higher price.

    “The Times” January 2003