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Licensing

'Curbsiders' face stiff penalties, jail time

Recent investigations and prosecutions around “curbsiders” — illegal, unlicensed auto dealers — highlights the importance of becoming a registered car dealer through the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), says Toronto licensing and compliance lawyer Anar Dewshi.

“OMVIC is really cracking down on curbsiding,” Dewshi says, “and the penalities given to the offenders are quite grave, such as steep fines and even imprisonment.”

Dewshi, principal of Dewshi Law Practice, explains that these penalties don’t apply to private, individual sales but rather to those who are running unlicensed car dealerships out of their homes or other places of business, such as auto repair shops.

A newsletter from OMVIC, the province’s regulator of motor vehicle sales, points to several recent curbsider investigations and prosecutions that demonstrate the seriousness of the problem and the regulator’s commitment to battling illegal, unlicensed dealers.

In one instance, a London, Ont. man received a six-month jail sentence when he pleaded guilty to acting as a motor vehicle dealer without registration under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and to unfair business practices under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

In another case, a Toronto man was fined $11,000, plus a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge after pleading guilty to charges of curbsiding and breaching the CPA by committing an unfair business practice.

Dewshi tells AdvocateDaily.com that because the offenders are not registered under OMVIC, the matters don’t go through the licensing tribunal.

“What happens is these types of matters go through the Provincial Offences section,” she says. “It’s now a quasi-criminal matter."

The investigations are conducted by OMVIC, and Dewshi says it’s not uncommon for the regulator to trawl online marketplaces looking at listings.

To date in 2015, OMVIC states 30 individuals/businesses have been convicted of curbsiding and 69 additional cases are before the courts.

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