Fairfax fined $15k for false claims in Domain ads

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 8 May 2018
Instagram: The revised advert

Fairfax Media has been fined $15,000 for publishing an ad in the Sydney Morning Herald falsely claiming Domain is the “#1 property app in Australia” and that “the most property listings in Sydney are on Domain”.

The news follows an ongoing legal stoush between rival REA Group and Domain over the size of their property businesses, which began in 2016 when REA alleged that Fairfax had breached Australian Consumer Law by publishing Domain adverts that were "misleading".

The court case drew to a close in 2017, however Fairfax has been held in contempt of the initial ruling, publishing an ad on 13 February containing the banned phrases - one day after the court ruling.

Justice Bernard Murphy has ordered Fairfax to pay the fine within 28 days and awarded indemnity costs to REA.

Domain court case wrap exampleDomain's Sydney Morning Herald wrap was deemed misleading

Brazen Domain has since reinstated the ads with slightly tweaked messaging, reading now "Australia's #1 property app".

“We note the court’s decision. At the time of the proceedings, we apologised unreservedly to the court for unintentionally running two advertisements while court orders not to do so were in place," a Fairfax spokesperson told AdNews.

Domain was left with a CEO after the exit of Antony Catalano in January.

In the weeks after his departure, accusations arose that Catalano had led a "boy's club" culture within Domain.

Chairman Nick Falloon investigated the accusations, last week revealing a "few instances" were being investigated by HR.

REA has been approached for comment.

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