News you can’t use

2014-09

When reading a newspaper online, a director of a company came across a report about the transaction of a shop owned by the firm.

The report said the shop had been sold and its transaction price was given.

The source cited for the information was an estate agency.

In fact, the company had not sold that shop, so the director lodged a complaint with the Estate Agents Authority, alleging the realty firm had provided false transaction information to the paper.

In its investigation, the EAA found there was no such transaction record for the shop from the search conducted in the Land Registry.

Although the estate agency denied having provided the relevant information to the newspaper, it published the same transaction information on its website.

The estate agency admitted the information was obtained from some other newspaper reports. However, those reports merely mentioned there were negotiations between the shopowner and potential buyers, but that no deal had been reached.

In this case, the estate agency had failed to exercise due care and due diligence in ascertaining the accuracy of the transaction information before publishing the material online.

The agency was reprimanded and fined HK$10,000 by the industry watchdog.