Estate agents face trial over brochure


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The Independent Online

Three estate agents must stand trial for allegedly making false statements about the size of gardens surrounding a house, the High Court ruled today.

Legal experts said the case was a warning to agents about the perils of giving specific measurements when tempting buyers.

The High Court heard how, in August 2009, Bycroft & Co were agents for a sale in Hemsby, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

The property was described in the brochure as a “charming period, detached family house...set within superb gardens of approximately three-quarters of an acre”. The agents relied entirely on the vendors’ estimate as to the size of garden and made no checks themselves, two judges heard.

Norfolk County Council’s trading standards department prosecuted husband and wife Charles and Julie Bycroft, and their son Daniel, for breaching the 1991 Property Misdescriptions Act .

A district judge stopped the trial last year, arguing  the brochure used the terms  “approximately” and “sts” (subject to survey) , which amounted to an effective disclaimer. But Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Singh allowed an appeal by the council and said the case must be heard.