A closely watched court case involving JLL and its alleged violation of Washington, D.C.’s dual representation disclosure law is closer to being decided after an appeals court three-judge panel heard oral arguments this week. The U.S. Court of Appeals panel for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments from attorneys representing JLL and the landlord in the dispute, S.C. Herman & Associates.
Though the panel didn’t come to a decision, the questions and statements from the judges provided a glimpse into how they may rule on the case. The case centers on a dispute over a $781,000 commission for a 2018 office lease the landlord withheld from JLL because the brokerage allegedly didn’t adequately disclose it represented both sides of the deal. A District Court judge ruled in favor of the landlord, saying JLL didn’t follow the strict requirements of the city’s dual agency disclosure law, the first time the 25-year-old law has been implicated in a court case.
One appeals court judge, Harry Edwards, said he was “highly skeptical” that JLL violated the law, calling the landlord’s arguments “absurd” and saying, “there’s no conceivable way JLL could be denied the commission.” But another judge, Patricia Millet, pointed out to JLL’s attorneys that the required disclosure form in the leasing agreement was completely blank, and the brokerage provided no identification of who it was representing.
It’s unclear when the appeals court will issue a ruling or how it’ll rule in a case that could have significant implications for commercial brokerages operating in D.C. The three-judge panel that heard the arguments will likely have the final say. The only court that could hear an appeal of the panel’s ruling would be the U.S. Supreme Court, and it’s unlikely they would hear the case.