Law Society opposes limits on lawyers in real estate sales

The Law Society has asked the Minister of Finance, Gary Collins, to make no legislative changes to restrict lawyers in the sale of real estate in BC.

The Law Society's concern was prompted by a discussion paper from the Ministry of Finance entitled Real Estate Act Review, which proposes the following limitation on lawyers:

The new Act will clarify that the lawyers' exemption [from licensing requirements of the Real Estate Act] only applies to real estate trades which arise in the ordinary course of law practice. For example, a lawyer could sell property, without obtaining a real estate licence, where the sale is ancillary to settling an estate, administering a will, or effecting a marriage settlement, but would not be allowed to solicit new listings or show property outside of these kinds of circumstances.

In his letter to the Minister, Law Society President Howard Berge, QC pointed out lawyers are properly exempt from any licensing requirements when selling propery in BC and that the public interest is fully protected by the Law Society Rules, insurance and Special Compensation Fund. He emphasized that no policy or regulatory objectives could be met by limiting the exemption for lawyers and that any further regulation of lawyers by the Real Estate Council would only confuse consumers and increase costs.

The Law Society plans a formal submission to the Ministry of Finance.