2nd Legislative Consent Memorandum: the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Report on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill Legislative Consent Motion (LCM)

Amending the Definition of Estate Agency Work to Positively Exclude ‘Private Sale’


1. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (ERR) Bill (Appendix 1) was introduced in the House of Commons on 23rd May 2012.

2. The LCM, included at Appendix 2, seeks the agreement of the Assembly to the Westminster Parliament considering provisions of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill dealing with the definition of estate agency work to positively exclude ‘private sale’.

3. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment wrote on 6th September 2012 to inform the Committee of the intention of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to promote legislation amending the Estate Agents Act (EAA) 1979 and its request to the agreement of the Executive to the inclusion of Northern Ireland in proposed amendments (Appendix 3).

4. The Minister wrote again on 6th December 2012 to inform the Committee of the Department’s intention to seek an LCM to enable BIS to legislate to include Northern Ireland in the amendment to the definition of estate agency work.  Further background information is contained in the Minister’s Letter of 6th December 2012 at Appendix 3.  The Legislative Consent Motion seeks agreement:

“That this Assembly agrees that the provision in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill dealing with an amendment to the definition of Estate Agency Work should be considered by the United Kingdom Parliament.”

5. The Legislative Consent Memorandum was laid in the Business Office on 17th January 2013.

Committee Consideration

6. The Committee considered the LCM at its meeting on 13th December 2012. The Committee noted that the current definition of ‘estate agency work’ excludes those who publish advertisements or disseminate information.  The Committee further noted that the proposed amendment would extend the exemption to those situations where buyers or sellers can make direct contact with one another as a result of an advertisement or the dissemination of information and communicate directly with each other on an on-going basis.

7. Some concerns were expressed regarding the level of consultation at Northern Ireland level.  The Committee agreed to obtain information from the Department on any consultations undertaken including responses from Northern Ireland stakeholders.

8. The Committee considered an extract from the consultation at its meeting on 24th January 2013 (Appendix 4).  The consultation contains a specific question (Question 10) dealing with any issues about implementing the proposal in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.  The Committee noted that there were no substantive responses to this question relating to Northern Ireland.

9. At the same meeting, the Committee considered correspondence from the Department (Appendix 3) indicating that no responses to the consultation were received from Northern Ireland-based organisations.  The Committee further noted that, although estate agents and other property professionals were opposed to the change, it was clear that there was misunderstanding in relation to the scope of the change.

Committee Position

10. Having carefully considered the proposals in the LCM, the Committee agrees that the definition of estate agency work should be amended as proposed and that the proposed Legislative Consent Motion is the most appropriate means of achieving this.  The Committee therefore supports DETI in seeking the Assembly’s endorsement of the Legislative Consent Motion:

“That this Assembly endorses the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of the provisions in clause 62 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, as introduced in the House of Lords on 18 October 2012, dealing with Estate Agency Work.”

List of Appendices

Appendix 1 – Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Appendix 2 – The Legislative Consent Memorandum

Appendix 3 – Correspondence from the Minister and the Department

Appendix 4 – Extract from BIS Consultation

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