ISBA Wins Summary Judgment in Lawsuit against IDFPR
The Cook County Circuit Court on June 20 issued an order finding that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) cannot prosecute Illinois property tax attorneys on charges they offered appraisal services without a proper state license when they argue valuations before tax assessment appeal tribunals.
The deadline for the state to file an appeal was July 20. No appeal was filed.
“The ISBA took a principled stand for its members and for the profession as a whole,” said ISBA President James F. McCluskey. “This matter, if left unaddressed, could have had serious consequences for the practicing bar. The ISBA sent a clear message that it supports the legal profession and at the same time protects the interests of the public.”
The court found that “the comparison of properties or an income approach valuation presented by a licensed Illinois attorney on behalf of a client in real estate tax assessment proceedings does not entail the development or submission of an appraisal or constitute the unlicensed practice of real estate appraisal.”
The Illinois State Bar Association filed suit in 2017 under the leadership of then-ISBA President Hon. Russell W. Hartigan (ret.) after the IDFPR charged attorneys G. Terence Nader and David Bass for allegedly including an “opinion of value” of properties in briefs filed with property tax appeal boards on behalf of their clients. The IDFPR asserted the actions violated state law.
The ISBA argued that the IDFPR did not have the authority to levy such charges and that property tax lawyers were within their right to submit arguments relative to the correct value of a property when representing property owners.
In the court’s decision, Cook County Circuit Judge Raymond Mitchell also enjoined the defendants from “instituting or maintaining an action against a licensed Illinois attorney for engaging in the submission of a comparison of properties or income approach valuation by a property tax attorney in a real estate tax assessment proceeding.”
The court also issued a writ of prohibition against the IDFPR “preventing [it] from initiating, maintaining, or threatening a prosecution of an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Illinois for engaging in the submission of a comparison of properties or income approach valuation by a property tax attorney in a real estate tax assessment proceeding.”