Too expensive to enforce a judgment against an Ontario company
Winning a small claims case is not always enough to obtain a refund or compensation. When the targeted company is based in another province, enforcing a judgment can be costly in time and money.
Some consumers are struggling to enforce a judgment obtained in Small Claims Court against a company that does not have a foothold in Quebec.
France Paquette and Patrick Gérard don't know each other, but they have a lot in common. Both live in Greater Montreal. In 2013, they bought the same Electrolux-branded induction cooker, a model worth over $3,000.
In the kitchen of France as in that of Patrick, household appliances are lacking at the end of the summer of 2020 after seven years of loyal service. The culprit is an electronic power module (induction generator). Replacing it costs around $2000. As their extended warranty is over, they will have to pay out of pocket.
Patrick Gérard and France Paquette both sued the Electrolux company in the Court of Small receivables.
As well-informed consumers, they take action against Electrolux under the legal warranty. This is a right enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act according to which a good must be used for normal use for a reasonable period of time.
The judge of the Court of Quebec, Small Claims Division, agrees with them. He orders Electrolux to pay France Paquette $3,584 in compensation and $1,536 to Patrick Gérard for the repair of his stove.
The joy, however, is short-lived. After a while, seeing that the check is long overdue, Patrick Gérard relaunches the manufacturer. When I told them that I had a judgment against them, there, presto, no radio signal. The person on the other end would say, “Hello, hello? My headphones don't work well." It hung up.
“I felt like the stuffing turkey! »
— Patrick Gérard
France Paquette is also trying to contact the manufacturer, without success. I contacted Electrolux to make sure they received the judgement. Really radio quiet.
They are not the only ones in this situation. The The Invoice team found other consumers who have experienced the same problem in recent years.
Questioned by The invoice, Electrolux said they were sorry for the inconvenience experienced by these customers from other provinces. She added that she is reviewing her ways of doing things so that these problems are resolved in a timely manner. The company did not provide further explanation.
If Electrolux had had offices in Quebec, it would have been possible to send a bailiff there to enforce judgments. However, the appliance maker left Quebec in 2014 when its L'Assomption plant closed. Its headquarters are now in Mississauga, near Toronto.
Judgments rendered in Quebec cannot be enforced without first being recognized by an Ontario court. In order to get their due, a consumer must go through this extra step.
He could represent himself in court at little cost. But the procedure can seem complex, not to mention the distance to be covered and the lost workdays. It is possible to hire a lawyer in Ontario to make your job easier, but it is not cheap, according to Karen Perron, president of the Ontario Bar Association.
“The fees depend on each situation, but generally I would say it costs around $2500 to $3000. »
— Karen Perron, President of the Ontario Bar Association
Karen Perron, president of the Ontario Bar Association, advises her clients to make sure they have avenues to enforce their judgment before embarking on such proceedings, such as knowing where the accounts are. accounts or company inventories.
The same fate awaits an Ontarian who wants to enforce a judgment in Quebec.
Patrick Gérard, he throws in the towel in the face of such expenses. I am ready to fight until the end, but from there to spend astronomical sums to assert my judgment in Ontario… At some point, reason takes over.
This problem of the recognition of judgments between provinces is not new. In 1998, a committee of experts, the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, recommended that provinces and territories adopt the Uniform Enforcement of Canadian Judgments and Judgments Act.
This model law aims to simplify the procedure, according to Guillaume Laganière, professor in the department of legal sciences at UQAM. This proposal allows a person who has obtained a judgment to have it recognized elsewhere in Canada without having to file a new appeal in the province in question.
According to law professor Guillaume Laganière, the inability of some consumers to have their judgment enforced in another province is an issue that involves access to justice.
Many provinces saw the good in it and adopted it. Except three, and not the least: Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
Asked about this, Quebec and Toronto respond tersely. The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General tells The Invoice that this bill raises fairness concerns within the legal community.
L press officer for the Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barette, declares that this is a question which is the subject of analyses.
The situation is not ideal, continues Guillaume Laganière, because a system of recognition of judgments between provinces works best when all the provinces participate.
France Paquette, she would have enjoyed benefiting from it.
“The solution already exists! But it should apply from the outset, without us having to invest any additional effort.
— France Paquette
Surprised by this little-known proposal, Patrick Gérard nevertheless reminds us that companies must also make more efforts. Companies that sell in Quebec should have liability regardless of the province in which they have elected domicile. When you have a product, whether it's in Quebec, British Columbia or Saskatchewan, there should be responsibility from coast to coast.
The report from the journalist and host François Sanche, research journalist Kim Chabot and director Stéphanie Desforges is broadcast on La invoice on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. on ICI Télé.< /p>