Heavy fines for carrying out the activity of an agency and broker illegally
Carrying out the activity of a real estate agency or broker illegally is a violation of the Real Estate Brokerage Act.
Indeed, any person who concludes a real estate brokerage contract, claims to have the right to do so or acts in such a way as to lead others to believe that he is authorized to do so, may be brought before a criminal court(1).
Pursuant to Section 125 of the Act, individuals found guilty of committing these offences are liable to a fine of $2,500 to $62,500 per accusation count, while the fines for companies (legal persons) range from $5,000 to $125,000 per count.
It is also important to remember that despite the fact that the OACIQ, as part of its criminal proceedings, can recommend the fine to be imposed, the fine is determined at the court’s discretion. The purpose of the fines of course is to deter offenders from committing other offences and compel them to abide by the law. To determine if the fine imposed is reasonable and deterrent, the court takes into account the injury suffered and the benefits derived from the offence.
Although the fines may seem slight for the first offences, they increase in severity with every new offence. In fact, the Act clearly states that the minimum and maximum of the fine are automatically doubled; the court then has no discretion and must impose at least the double of the fine. For instance, In case of repeat offence on the part of an individual, the fines range from $5,000 and $125,000 and for companies (legal persons) from $10,000 to $250,000.
Moreover, if as part of criminal proceedings brought by the OACIQ, and in case of repeat offence, in addition to bringing the offender before a criminal court for the nth time, the OACIQ may apply to Superior Court, with the permission of the General Attorney of Quebec or through him, for an interlocutory injunction ordering the offender to cease any illegal activity (2).
Finally, if the person does not obey the injunction, the OACIQ may ask for a conviction for contempt of court. This could result in a prison sentence, a substantial fine or even both for the offender. In one case, a person who continued practicing the activity of real estate broker or agency illegally despite an order to cease doing so was sentenced to a $10,000 fine and, failing payment, to 30 days in jail(3). In another case, the offender was convicted of contempt of court. He was sentenced to a $20,000 fine (4).
For any questions, feel free to contact the information centre Info OACIQ.
(1) Sections 4, 13 and 124.
(2) Section 128.
(3) ACAIQ c. Secondino, C.S. Montreal, 500-05-075442-028, December 6, 2005, j. Down.
(4) ACAIQ c. Falsetti, C.S. Montreal, 500-17-028245-051, April 10, 2007 and December 18, 2007, j. Langlois.