Competition Bureau to launch an appeal of a Toronto Real Estate Board decision

OTTAWA – The Competition Bureau will appeal a Competition Tribunal decision to dismiss a complaint against the Toronto Real Estate Board over rules that restrict how member agents provide information to customers.

The bureau said Tuesday that it has asked the Federal Court of Appeal to overturn the tribunal’s decision, contending it was based on an overly narrow interpretation of the Competition Act.

In May 2011, the bureau tried to prohibit Toronto Real Estate Board rules that restrict how its members provide information to customers, including previous listings and previous sale prices.

However, the real estate board argued it was bound to respect the contractual and private information of consumers.

The tribunal dismissed the complaint earlier this year.

“While most trade associations comply with the Competition Act, we are concerned that, if the tribunal’s decision is left to stand, trade associations may be tempted to develop rules aimed at preventing or eliminating potential new forms of competition,” said John Pecman, interim commissioner of competition.

The real estate board said Tuesday that the commission is trying to erode the safeguards in the MLS system.

“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,” the board said in a statement.

The Toronto Real Estate Board is the largest real estate board in Canada.