A boutique real estate agency has been cleared in court of using misleading advertising to market residential land in a series of newspaper advertisements.
Adelaide-based Cocks Auld Real Estate had been accused by South Australia’s Consumer and Business Services Commissioner, which oversees issues of fair trading and consumer affairs, of advertising residential land for sale in local newspapers and The Advertiser for $550,000.
This allegedly went against the vendor’s accepted minimum price of $600,000.
The commissioner announced back in June 2017 of impending court action against Cocks Auld, alleging four breaches each of Australian Consumer Law and the South Australian Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act, by making false or misleading representations about the land and its price expectations.
However in court last week, Magistrate Paul Bennett cleared the agency of any wrongdoing. In doing so, he said that the documentary evidence did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the vendor had wanted a $600,000 sale price before the advertisements were placed.
The judge ordered the Consumer Affairs Commissioner to pay Cocks Auld’s costs in defending the case.
Cocks Auld Real Estate was acquired last year by another small firm, Harris Real Estate, prior to the legal action being announced.
Its managing director, Phil Harris, declined to comment, given the issue pre-dated the acquisition.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.