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).”

15 COMMENTS

  1. A number of post refer to CREA support.(Alberta collection comment) CREA has funds to share with associations for legal defense and i would be surprised if TREB is not participating in that relief fund.

  2. 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).”
    How can the Competition Bureau of Canada be within its mandate to promote a business concept that’s really a “big business” concept, when the CBOC should really be about ensuring broad competition – by ensuring smaller operations can sustain themselves, against large ones?
    Should the Competition Bureau of Canada end up being successful regarding this matter, are they as likely to want to investigate a business concept, later on – in relation to a, hypothetical, Dominant position, complaint – when they (CBOC) were instrumental in such a business concept being allowed to enter the market, in the first place?
    I feel that it would be appropriate, for the Competition Bureau of Canada to remove itself from this situation.

  3. CREA has created a monster by allowing the competition tribunal to win by quitting. Now we having postings with bad info. Or Sellers who want deposit in their Lawyer account, ( just try to get it back after a bad inspection) no lock boxes, (can you come at 5:30 instead as we are not home till then etc

  4. I swear to God, I’m going to take up a collection in Alberta and donate it to the TREB legal fund. It seems a shame that TREB has the cajones to take on the Competition Burea while CREA snivels.

  5. I am glad TREB is following up on this. This issue is very important not only for TREB members but Realtors all over Canada as this decision will set the precedence that will no longer be TREB specific but will have Canada wide remification.

  6. Amazing that it was the government who decided that our profession was so important it needed to be policed with legislation and a code of ethics which dictated business practices only to turn around and say that it ended up in a format that made selling real estate less accessible to the general public. So which is it? In what other universe would a PROFESSION that has a MANDATORY association membership have taken the collective works of those members to create, develop AND PAY FOR a database of information with a public interface (the MLS) only for the same overzealous government to step back in and say – that looks good! Everyone should have access to it.
    So, can I now park my car on the boulevard of a car dealership, their flags and balloons waiving and me with a little orange for sale sign on my car enjoying all of the traffic and attention they erected their building and pay their taxes to attract? How about in addition their sales staff can help promote my car? For free? Ya! That’s the way, right?
    Build up a marketing source on the backs of other people’s dollars and when it is successful enough just give it away. Love it.
    How we are not all in favour of dismantling the MLS is the most amazing part. Let those who can use the best of the internet stand alone and let the discounters fend for themselves. It’s not their fault, they are just giving the public what they want and the public can’t understand the value of the network, less so now that they can post their phone number on it.

  7. I also congratulate TREB for seeing this through to the end. Where is CREA on this issue? Once again no support when needed. Why does Real Estate need this level of bureaucracy?

  8. Congratulations to TREB for seeing this through to the end. We need a definitive ruling to protect the rights of the public as well as salespeople and brokerages. The competition bureau continues to overstep and only TREB has stood up to them. This benefits all of us and continues to make me wonder why CREA has not stepped up to the plate.

    • CREA is only looking out for CREA. They have warped into an internet marketing firm on the backs of its members. They just want to reap profits from MLS.ca or REALTOR.ca . They don’t care that there actions are driving their members out of business.

      • Remember each of the 106,000 members of CREA are now legally entitled to fair market value for 1/106,000th share of realtor.ca. This is Federal Legislation btw.

        That means if CREA makes a decision on any changes to realtor.ca (this includes the new/beta site) that you don’t agree with, you can opt out and CREA would have to pay out, an independently audited value of your share’s worth in realtor.ca, estimated now to be worth over $3000 since they began running Bank Ads.

        The reason why we shut down the independent techco from being created before the new non-profit corporation rules came into effect, are now blatantly obvious.

        Nay Sayers can of simply verify by reading the new Act.

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