The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) is appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada in its ongoing dispute with the Competition Bureau.
In a statement today, TREB says it has filed an application to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the Feb. 3, 2014 decision of the Federal Court of Appeal that would send the case back to the Competition Tribunal.
“The Commissioner of Competition is persisting in its efforts to erode the personal privacy and contractual safeguards afforded by the MLS system,” says the board in a statement. “TREB will continue to work to protect the personal information entrusted to it and its members by the general public, while it strives always to do what it can to ensure a highly competitive environment for real estate professionals in the GTA.”
In the Federal Court of Appeal ruling in February, the court allowed an appeal of an April 2013 decision that dismissed the bureau’s complaint against TREB.
“The application was based on the commissioner’s allegation that a certain rule adopted by the board is anti-competitive because it substantially lessens competition among Realtors in the Greater Toronto Area who are members of the board,” said the Federal Court of Appeal’s Reasons for Judgment, written by Justice J. A. Sharlow. “The tribunal dismissed the application without considering the merits,” on the basis that subsection 79(1) of the Competition Act doesn’t apply to the board because it does not compete with its members.
The appeal court said the tribunal erred in its interpretation of the law. “I would allow the appeal and refer the commissioner’s application back to the tribunal for determination on the merits,” wrote Justice Sharlow.
The board “disputes many factual and legal aspects of the commissioner’s application, but the tribunal did not resolve any of those disputes because it dismissed the application solely on a question of law,” said the ruling.
The Competition Bureau originally filed its case in 2011 and it was heard in late 2012. The decision was released in April 2013.
The bureau’s application before the tribunal requested that TREB eliminate rules that it claimed “denied real estate agents the ability to introduce innovative Internet-based real estate brokerage services, such as Virtual Office Websites (VOWs).”