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Sunday 22 September 2019

Daft seeking legal advice after ruling over adverts

Family affair: Daft.ie founders Eamonn, left, and Brian Fallon in 2006. Photo: Martin Nolan
Family affair: Daft.ie founders Eamonn, left, and Brian Fallon in 2006. Photo: Martin Nolan
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

The country's largest property website is seeking legal advice after being ordered to block discriminatory advertising using terms like "professionals only" or "rent allowance not accepted".

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) said Daft Media Ltd must "refrain from publishing, displaying or permitting to be published or displayed on its website" discriminatory adverts.

It comes after a three-year legal battle between Daft Media Ltd and the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHREC) which took the case.

The property website has also been told to develop methodology to identify, monitor and block discriminatory ads on its website based on a list of terms of trigger words and phrases provided by the IHREC.

A spokeswoman for Daft.ie told the Irish Independent they are seeking legal advice and could not comment on the WRC ruling.

It found rental adverts on the property website identified by IHREC breached the Equal Status Act on the grounds of family status, age and on the grounds of rent allowance.

Daft.ie was set up in 1997 by brothers Brian and Eamonn Fallon as the internet boom got under way.

The website was later commercialised with the founding of Daft Media Ltd in 2001, and its popularity soared over the following years.

It was designed to provide online access to a widespread source of property ads and has grown significantly.

Eamonn was 20 and Brian aged just 15 when they launched the website.

Accounts filed in 2016 showed the company generated pre-tax profits of €2.66m, having posted a pre-tax loss of €2.49m in 2015. This had been attributed to €5.5m which was owed by a related business being written off.

At the end of 2016, Daft Media's accumulated profits stood at €3.7m, up €1.4m compared to 12 months earlier.

A total of 44 staff were on the payroll that year with employee costs at €3.1m, while pay to directors totalled €279,954.

According to its own website, Daft.ie "focused on empowering users to make informed decisions through a mixture of innovative product features and in-depth quarterly market analysis by way of Ireland's most read property report - 'The Daft Report'.

"Daft.ie is also the primary destination for property searchers with a unique audience of over 2.5 million users each month."

At any one time, the website lists around 70,000 properties to sell or rent, with nine out of 10 properties for sale in Ireland listed on Daft.ie.

Eamonn Fallon was also a co-founder of Journal Media and an owner between July 2010 and January 2015, as per his LinkedIn profile.

In 2015, Daft.ie joined forces with Donedeal.ie and Adverts.ie in a new venture.

Distilled Media Group, which owns Daft.ie and Adverts.ie, and Schibsted Media Group, owners of DoneDeal.ie, established a combined business, Digital Media Ventures Ltd, which took over ownership of the three successful online classified advertising sites.

The webpage for Daft.ie says that Distilled SCH "offers unrivalled reach, traffic and data to brands and advertisers looking to engage with our audience".

In the first six months of 2015, at the time of the new venture, the combined entity had revenues of €9.4m.

Private equity firm Tiger Global's minority shareholding in Distilled Media was also bought out, as part of this transaction.

At the time Eamonn Fallon, who took over as CEO of Digital Media Ventures Ltd following the deal, said: "Joining forces with Schibsted in this venture creates an online advertising business of scale in Ireland with the capability of competing head to head with the US internet majors."

Irish Independent

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