Canadian regulators press case that Toronto Realtors are restricting competition

The Competition Bureau of Canada argued in court today that restrictions imposed by the Toronto Real Estate Board on the display of sold and pending listings by “virtual office websites” are restricting competition that might save consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in commissions.

Canada’s Competition Tribunal, an administrative court that decides disputes over issues ranging from mergers to restrictive trade practices, last year dismissed the Competition Bureau’s complaint against TREB.

Canadian regulators quickly appealed dismissal of the case to the Federal Court of Appeal, where laywers for TREB said the board is a nonprofit with no stake in promoting the interests of one business over another.

“A trade association cannot control this market,” David Vaillancourt, a lawyer for TREB argued. “The economic benefit is derived by the members of TREB.”

The outcome of the case could have broader implications for the Internet distribution of property listings throughout Canada, the Canadian Real Estate Association said in 2011, when it gained limited standing to participate in the case. Source: theglobeandmail.com.