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Case study: The Real Estate Industry

In order to work in the real estate industry in Victoria, a person must either hold an estate agent’s licence or be eligible to be employed as an agent’s representative.

We were approached by an agent’s representative who had been declared bankrupt after a matrimonial dispute and the failure of a development project.  The client started in the real estate industry when he was 19 years and had worked in the sector for 25 years. He had known no other form of employment.

The Estate Agents Act 1980 (Vic) (Act) provides that a person who is declared bankrupt is automatically disqualified from holding an estate agent’s licence or working as an agent’s representative.

However, the Act allows a person to apply to the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) for permission to continue to work in real estate, despite being bankrupt. To grant permission, the BLA must be satisfied that it would not be contrary to the public interest to do so.

The client had previously made an application to the BLA for permission, but this had been withheld. The BLA required detailed responses to complex matters regarding the circumstances giving rise to the client’s bankruptcy before considering the matter further.

We prepared comprehensive responses to the BLA’s concerns and made detailed submissions as to why it should grant its permission. The submissions included evidence of the client’s good reputation and character, his standing in the industry and the unlikelihood of any detriment to the public interest by the BLA granting its permission.

The BLA accepted the responses and submissions and granted its permission.  The client was able to continue in the real estate industry and preserve his 25 year career.

Dealing with a regulatory authority without the proper advice can be fraught with danger, particularly when the stakes are high. We can provide expert advice to help you navigate the bureaucratic minefield.