The Trusted Adviser
July 2018 | Volume 11 · Number 5

Real Estate and Title Insurance News:

A Win for All Lawyers: ISBA Wins Suit over Unauthorized Practice of Appraisal

Last year, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) instituted disciplinary action against two attorneys who made arguments in court concerning the value of land in property tax appeal cases, stating that the attorneys had engaged in the unauthorized practice of appraisal because the attorneys were not licensed appraisers.

The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) brought suit against the IDFPR on behalf of the two attorneys. The ISBA filed a motion for summary judgment and requested an injunction and a writ of prohibition against the IDFPR prosecuting or threatening to prosecute an Illinois attorney for arguing the value of land in property tax assessment proceedings. Yesterday Cook County Circuit Court Judge Raymond W. Mitchell ruled on behalf of ISBA on all counts and issued an injunction and writ of prohibition against IDFPR from bringing such disciplinary actions.

Of interest to all attorneys is the fact that in this case, the attorneys were making arguments in court on behalf of their clients and yet the IDFPR characterized the in-court arguments as unauthorized practice of appraisal, attempting to regulate what attorneys may argue in court.

The court found that the Illinois Supreme Court has jurisdiction to regulate attorneys that can only be abrogated by statute if the statute states the intention to regulate attorneys with specificity, following the authority set forth in Cripe v. Leiter, 184 Ill.2d 185 (1998). In this case, the Appraisal Act does not specifically set forth an intention to regulate attorneys and, therefore, the court held that, "in short, an attorney's reference to comparable valuations in a property tax proceeding constitutes the practice of law, which is regulated exclusively by the Illinois Supreme Court. This activity falls outside of the Appraisal Act and is plainly beyond the reach of the IDFPR." For more, read the full opinion.

ATG takes the position that similar reasoning, based on Cripe v. Leiter, Id, applies to the IDFPR's effort to include attorneys' fees on the Disclosure of Controlled Business Form that the IDFPR promulgates, because Section 18 of the Title Insurance Act, where the form is authorized, does not include a specific intention to regulate attorneys. 215 ILCS 155/18.

To support the ISBA's representation of all Illinois attorneys in defending encroachments on the profession, we encourage you to join or renew your ISBA membership.

As always, we thank you for your ongoing support and value your feedback. Contact us to comment on this or any issue of concern.

[Last update: 6-21-18]

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