Thursday, October 8, 2009

Class actions

Today's Supreme Court of Canada decision in Marcotte v. Longueuil (City), 2009 SCC 43, although arising under the Quebec Code, may have relevance across Canada. Among other things the Court holds that class actions are inappropriate for matters where summary disposition is appropriate. This point relies on the provisions of the Code but the principle is likely of broad application:

H.  Jurisdictional Issues


[41]                           The actions the appellants wish to institute fall undeniably within the ambit of art. 33 C.C.P.  But other causes of nullity, such as formal defects and irregularities, would instead fall within the framework of annulment proceedings over which the Superior Court is granted jurisdiction in statutes relating to municipalities, such as the Cities and Towns Act, s. 397, and the Municipal Code of Québec, R.S.Q., c. C‑27.1, arts. 689 and 690.  In many cases, there is a fine line between the subject matter of a motion for annulment and that of an action in nullity under art. 33 (see Rousseau, at pp. 766‑68; Hétu and Duplessis, at p. 8 553; Immeubles Port Louis Ltée v. Lafontaine (Village), at pp. 343‑46, per Gonthier J.).  Recourse to the class action in such situations could hamper the conduct of proceedings that are in principle simple and quick, and would hardly be consistent with the principle of proportionality set out in art. 4.2 C.C.P.

James Morton
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