JUDGMENTS OF INTERESTYou will find below a number of judgments pertaining to cases pleaded by our lawyers. Although most of the judgments selected were won by us, we considered it fair and appropriate to include certain decisions in litigation where our lawyers represented the losing party. These decisions remind us that every case must be approached with humility and that settlement opportunities must be considered carefully and with an open mind. It must always be kept in mind that a Court’s ruling is inherently unpredictable, as the Court is called upon to decide on the basis of contradictory evidence and positions.
Jean Lemoine represented Mrs. Galati-Casullo in defense to an action in conveyance of title instituted by a corporation, seeking ownership of a residential rental property. A promise to purchase for an amount of $3,250,000 had been accepted by Mrs. Galati-Casullo but she refused to proceed to the sale, as she considered that Plaintiff was in breach of its obligations according to the terms of the promise to purchase. The Superior Court dismissed Plaintiff’s action, ruling that it had not fulfilled the necessary conditions to be granted conveyance of title.
The firm acted for Ms. Delage and Mr. Bussières following the sale of their residence, which gave rise to litigation implicating four different parties. The Court of Quebec accepted the position of Ms. Delage and Mr. Bussières, holding the contractor and land surveyor that took part in the construction of the residence liable for the damages suffered by Plaintiff.
This case involved complex issues of administrative law and fundamental rights (Charters). The Government of Quebec took an action against the administrators of the Académie Yeshiva Toras Moshe of Montreal on the basis that this institution did not hold a permit from the Ministère de l’Éducation. Jean Lemoine and Francis P. Donovan successfully obtained the dismissal of the petition for an interlocutory injunction presented by the Attorney General of Quebec on the basis that the questions before the Court were complex and that it was in the best interest of the children that the Court not intervene before the case was heard on the merits. Following this interlocutory judgment, delicate negotiations were undertaken involving several parties in order to find a solution which would respect the laws of Quebec as well as the rights and values of the Hasidic community. In October 2014, a few days before the trial, an agreement was reached whereby the children would come under the responsibility of the English Montreal School Board but would still receive the Talmudic education dispensed by the Yeshiva. This agreement was approved by the Superior Court of Quebec.
The firm launched a legal action on behalf of its client Richard Smith for partition of a property he owned jointly with the Defendants. Fiercely contested by the defense, the Court nonetheless ruled in favour of Mr. Smith, ordering the sale of the building with costs against the Defendants.
Jean Lemoine represented Laurent Le Portz following his resignation from the phamaceutical group Ethypharm Inc. The Superior Court granted the claim, judging that he had been the victim of a constructive dismissal and granting Mr. Le Portz significant damages.
Jean Lemoine and Francis P. Donovan represented a pharmaceutical company, MDS Canada Inc., in a dispute with its landlord regarding a commercial lease, under which MDS rented premises intended to receive members of the public. During the course of the lease, the landlord began charging for parking in what had previously been a free parking lot adjacent to the rented building, thereby greatly restricting access to the building by the public. The Court ruled in favour of the tenant, deciding that the landlord could not unilaterally modify the terms of a commercial lease, and issued a permanent injunction against the landlord compelling it to respect its contractual obligations.
Jean Lemoine and Francis P. Donovan represented Mr. Noël Journeaux and the company Lab Journeaux, Bédard Inc. in an action taken against them by Mr. Claude Bédard. The Plaintiff, Claude Bédard asked the Court to order the liquidation of Lab Journeaux, Bédard Inc. and, alternatively, to authorize him to purchase the shares held by Mr. Journeaux in the company at their book value. The Superior court dismissed the action, relieving the Plaintiff from his duties as director of the company and ordering him to sell his shares in the company to Mr. Noël Journeaux, at the sale price that the latter proposed.
The firm represented Defendant Ubisoft Canada Inc. in connection with a lawsuit by Finexcorp Inc., a company operating in the field of corporate financing by factoring. Plaintiff Finexcorp Inc. alleged that Ubisoft Canada Inc. had recognized its debt to another company and had made a commitment to pay the sum to the latter. The Court concluded that Ubisoft Canada Inc. had no intention of acknowledging the debt since the services had not been rendered. Leave to appeal against the judgment by Finexcorp Inc. was not granted by the Court of Appeal (2013 QCCA 1502).
In this case, the firm represented the owner of a summer home situated on a property accessible only by water. Along with other appellants, the firm obtained the reversal of a Superior Court judgment that had declared certain neighbouring properties to be enclosed (“enclavés”) and granted to the owners of these other properties a right of way allowing them to build a road across the client’s property.
In this case, the firm represented the wife in the context of divorce proceedings which were instituted after a marriage of more than 32 years. In a debate concerning the partition of moveable and immoveable assets situated on three continents and substantial financial assets, Francis P. Donovan obtained a judgment ordering an equitable partition of the moveable and immoveable assets and the payment of a substantial sum to his client in order to re-establish equity in the partition of the financial assets. But for a minor modification to the amount awarded, the judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal (2015 QCCA 1669).
The firm successfully represented Plaintiff Comfort Keepers, a leading care provider for seniors and people in need of assistance, against Transcontinental Media following the publication of a defamatory article published in The Chronicle, a local newspaper in Montreal’s West Island. The Court determined that the journalist was at fault for presenting a skewed version of the facts and omitting to diligently verify the information provided to him, which resulted in an
inaccurate and defamatory article harming the Plaintiff’s reputation. The Court also concluded that the attempt made by the newspaper to rectify the article was insufficient and awarded Plaintiff $20,000 in moral and pecuniary damages.
This case involved a disputed election for the tribal council of an aboriginal community in the north of Québec. The election committee had decided to void the election held a few days earlier after having found several irregularities in the election process. Two of the elected band members contested the annulment of the election before the Federal Court of Canada.
The dispute raised questions regarding oral custom within the community as transmitted by the elders, the authority of the electoral code recently adopted by the assembly and the ultimate sovereignty of the general assembly of the
members of the community.
The Federal Court concluded that the election committee did not have the power to annul the election pursuant to the new electoral code.
This case illustrates the dictum “words fly away, writings remain”. The members of the election committee that we represented might have had the best reasons in the world to annul the election based on the tribe’s custom, but the electoral code did not give them the same latitude. Furthermore, it remains that the results of the vote took precedence over all other considerations for the Court, which should come as no surprise in a democracy.
The revenue generated by a tenant in a shopping centre did not allow it to pay its rent on the first day of each month as required by the lease. After the rent was paid late (but in full) for a few months, the lessor decided to resiliate the lease and to evict the tenant even though the tenant was only about twenty days late on its rent and even though the tenant’s problems could be explained by serious deficiencies in the functioning of the shopping centre and by inequitable contractual conditions imposed by the lessor.
Faced with a lawsuit by the lessor for penalties under the lease, the tenant argued that the lessor had abused its right to resiliate the lease. This argument was rejected by the Superior Court and by the Court of Appeal.
It is said that the worst settlement beats the best trial and this file is an excellent illustration of this saying. The tenant’s arguments were supported by the caselaw and appeared convincing, yet the trial judge saw things differently and the Court of Appeal did not find any determining error in the first judgement that would have justified its intervention.
The firm represented the Canadian Federation of Students, Quebec Component, a federation of post-secondary student unions, as well as certain members of its executive committee. Faced with an attempted takeover of the organisation in a manner inconsistent with its by-laws, Francis P. Donovan obtained the issuance of declaratory and injunctive orders re-establishing and confirming the legitimate composition of the Executive Committee. The judgment obtained also contained a series of orders intended to prevent interference with the proper functioning of the organisation.
In this case, Francis P. Donovan acted for a medical professional who entered into an agreement with a contractor for the purchase and construction of a commercial condominium in the region of Montreal, in which the professional intended to set up a clinic and practice his profession. Delays in the delivery of the condominium caused serious prejudice to the client and, following a deterioration of the relations between the parties, the contractor refused to
convey title to the condominium.
Francis. P. Donovan instituted proceedings in the form of an action in conveyance of title and an action in damages on behalf of the client, and defended the client against proceedings instituted by the contractor by which the latter sought to have the contract between the parties annulled. The judgement rendered in this case ordered the contractor to convey title to the condominium and additionally condemned to the contractor to pay substantial damages to our client. An appeal instituted by the contractor was later declared by the Court of Appeal to be abandoned.