Professional Negligence

Real estate has been booming in B.C. for some time now.  This recent published decision referenced as Currie v. Sonnenberg, 2017 BCSC 526 concerns a summary trial application brought by the Defendant to dismiss the Plaintiff’s action for breach of contract and professional negligence.  The case discusses the legal principle as it specifically relates to duty and standard of care of a real estate agent.  The issue arose when the listing agent sold a home in Richmond, BC for less than market value, as alleged by the Plaintiffs.  The court concluded that the Plaintiff did not have sufficient evidence to prove their claim and the action was dismissed with costs.

“Duty and Standard of Care”

[33]         The defendants owed a duty of care to the plaintiffs. That is conceded. However, the plaintiffs have not provided any evidence as to what the standard of care should be for real estate salesperson listing a property for sale and advising on listing price. Thus, there is no evidence that Ms. Sonnenberg’s conduct fell below the standard for a realtor in these circumstances.

[34]         In Haag v. Marshall (1989), 61 D.L.R. 4th 371 the Court of Appeal said this at 382 about the standard of care for professionals:

…In cases of professional negligence above all, with the many difficult and varied situations met, if a plaintiff hopes to succeed on the grounds of lack of competency it must be fairly demonstrated that it has fallen below an established standard or practice in the profession.

[35]         The same point was made by Madam Justice Baker in the context of a real estate broker and an allegation of negligence. In Phelan v. Realty World, [1994] B.C.J. No. 752 (S.C.), Baker J. stated at para. 52:

No evidence was put before the court to establish the standard of care expected of a real estate salesperson in the preparation of a market evaluation. In this case, there is no expert opinion evidence that the procedure followed by Mr. Allen in the preparation of his market valuation failed to meet the standard of a reasonably skilled real estate salesperson.

[36]         The principle stated in Haag was applied by this court in a real estate case in Snijders v. Morgan (October 9, 1996), Nelson, Doc. 4747 (B.C.S.C.) where the court noted at 11:

I do not intend to repeat anything that I have said to this point about the law. I am entirely satisfied that the law as stated in the Haag and Marshall case … applies equally to the duties and responsibilities and standard of care applicable to a realtor and real estate agent, as to a solicitor engaged in a real estate transaction.

[37]         Having regard to the lack of evidence concerning the standard of care and the conduct of Ms. Sonnenberg throughout the transaction, there can be no finding that the defendants breached the standard of care.”

 See Disclaimer on “About” Page.

Leave a Reply