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Competition Bureau appeals Competition Tribunal ruling In Toronto Real Estate Board case

OTTAWA, May 14, 2013 — The Competition Bureau filed an appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal today, seeking to overturn the Competition Tribunal's ruling in the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) matter.

The Bureau believes that the Tribunal's ruling was based on an overly narrow interpretation of section 79 of the Competition Act — the "abuse of dominance" provision. The Tribunal ruled that TREB, as an incorporated trade association, does not compete with its own members in the real estate brokerage market and therefore cannot be found to have contravened the abuse of dominance provision.

"Allowing the Tribunal's finding to stand could leave a significant loophole in the application of the Competition Act," said Interim Commissioner of Competition John Pecman. "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."

With more than 35,000 members, TREB is the largest real estate board in Canada. It owns and operates the Toronto Multiple Listing Service system, which contains current property listings and historical information about residential real estate purchases and sales in Toronto and the surrounding area. In May 2011, the Bureau filed an application with the Tribunal seeking to prohibit TREB's rules that restrict how its member agents provide information to customers, such as previous listings and previous sale prices, thereby denying agents the ability to introduce new and innovative real estate brokerage services using the Internet. The Competition Tribunal heard the case in 2012.

"We believe that the Competition Tribunal erred in dismissing our application and in not ruling on the facts of the case," added Pecman. "It is our view that TREB's anti‑competitive behaviour continues to restrict potential homebuyers and sellers from taking advantage of a greater range of service and pricing options when making one of the most significant financial transactions of their lives."

The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.

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