Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Federal antitrust enforcer pursues another MLS

Perhaps you've already read about it over at the InmanBlog, but if not, I see that the Department of Justice has reached a tentative settlement with the Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head. The agreement would require the rescission of discriminatory membership rules which burdened non-traditional brokers, minimum service requirements, and the authority of the MLSs' trustees to adopt rules that could directly regulate commissions. Unreal.

While the proposed settlement apparently has not yet been made public, a summary is contained in the DOJ's Competitive Impact Statement (see page 9 thereof), which was filed along with a civil complaint yesterday with the Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

10/18/07 UPDATE: A kind media acquaintance has supplied me with a copy of the proposed final judgment (settlement) in this case. I'm looking forward to reviewing it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chicago Lawyers' Committee files appellate brief in Craigslist litigation

Complying with the recently announced filing deadline, the Chicago Lawyers' Committee has filed an appellate brief in its case against Craigslist, presently pending before the Seventh Circuit.

Buried in a footnote is where I found the only reference to the Ninth Circuit's now-benched decision. While the issues presented in the two Fair Housing Act cases are not identical, I would have expected CLC's counsel to try to make more of the Ninth Circuit's decision. I suppose it's basically a moot point now.

I'm very much looking forward to attending the oral argument in this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New federal website addresses competition in the real estate brokerage industry

Earlier today Inman News' InmanBlog posted on a new website created by the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division that is intended to shine some light on anticompetitive real estate brokerage practices. A DOJ press release accompanied the site's launch.

I see the new website includes a link for anticompetitive MLS practices, information on discriminatory state laws, and an email address for reporting questionable conduct. As you may recall, the joint FTC/DOJ report on industry competition issued last spring recommended, among other things, that DOJ "promote consumer understanding of marketplace options. . . . Competition in the real estate brokerage industry would likely be enhanced if consumers had better access to such information." Good to see the DOJ following through on this point.