The alleged actions of a McBride real estate agent are at the centre of a conflict between B.C.'s superintendent of real estate and the industry council he was appointed to oversee.
Michael Noseworthy filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court this week asking a judge to order the B.C. Real Estate Council to hold a disciplinary hearing over a claim the agent misled a couple who was looking at a rural property in Crescent Spur.
In 2013, the couple wanted to buy the land to expand their organic farming operation. But on the closing date of the purchase, according to the couple, the agent admitted the homestead and field they had their eye on was not on the property being offered.
The couple backed out of the deal and by midway through 2013, they had filed a complaint with the BCREC.
The matter went to small claims court a month later when the property's owner filed a claim seeking $25,000 in damages and the couple subsequently filed a counterclaim. The outcome for the case was not immediately available.
The dispute between the superintendent and the BCREC could be precedent settting.
In his petition, Noseworthy said he received a letter from the couple in March 2017 saying the BCREC's complaints committee decided it would not pursue disciplinary action against the agent. After reviewing the related material, Noseworthy wrote a letter to the BCREC directing the body to reverse the decision and hold a hearing.
In a response, BCREC's executive director refused to follow the order and pointed on the doctrine of "functus officio" – a principle that once a board or tribunal has made a decision it has fulfilled its statutory duty and so had no further ability to consider the case.
A week later, a lawyer for the superintendent replied, saying the BCREC had misapplied the doctrine and the BCREC's interpretation would render meaningless the legislation setting out the superintendent's authority over the council.
Both Noseworthy and a new slate of BCREC members were appointed in 2016 amid a frenzy of scandals related to the hot Metro Vancouver housing market and after an independent advisory group concluded the province's real estate industry had failed to regulate itself.
The BCREC has not yet filed a response and the claim has not been tested in court.
- with files from the Vancouver Sun