Companies located outside of Ontario sometimes seek to enforce a court judgment from their home province. Ontario's Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act1 permits a party to register a foreign judgment obtained in a "reciprocating jurisdiction" and enforce such judgment as if it had been obtained in Ontario, without the need to start a new lawsuit.
Unlike most Canadian provinces, however, Quebec is not a reciprocating jurisdiction.2 What then is the appropriate process for a company with a judgment from Quebec wishing to enforce it in Ontario? The recent decision in Noël et Associés, S.E.N.C.R.L. v Sincennes3 provides useful guidance on enforcement of Quebec judgments in Ontario.
By action rather than by application
In Noël et Associés, Justice Kane of the Superior Court of Justice held that an action–as opposed to an application– must be brought to enforce the debt created by a foreign judgment of a non-reciprocating jurisdiction. The judge reasoned that it is the promise to pay arising from the foreign judgment that is being enforced and not the foreign judgment itself.4 In so doing he accepted the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in Lax v Lax5 and broke from previous decisions6 holding that foreign judgments could be enforced through an application to obtain declaratory relief.
The suit must be taken in the appropriate court
Justice Kane also held that an action to enforce a Quebec judgment must be taken in the appropriate Ontario court, that is, the court with jurisdiction over actions for the amount of money awarded in the Quebec judgment. A claim based on a Quebec judgment for $25,000 or less should accordingly be brought in Small Claims Court.7 If an action to enforce a Quebec judgment (or a judgment from any other non-reciprocating jurisdiction) awarding less than this amount is brought before the Ontario Superior Court, it would have to be transferred to the Small Claims Court.
The author wishes to thank William Pellerin, articling student, for his help in preparing this legal update.
1 Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, RSO 1990, c R5 [the "Act"]
2 Application of Act, O Reg 322/92
3 Noël et Associés, S.E.N.C.R.L. v Sincennes, 2012 ONSC 3770 ["Noël et Associés"]
4 Noël et Associés, at paras 19 and 21
5 Lax v Lax (2004), 70 OR (3d) 520, 239 DLR (4th) 683 (CA)
6 Commission de la Construction du Québec v Access Rigging Services Inc., 2010 ONSC 5897, 104 OR (3d) 313 (SCJ), and Nuvex Ingredients Inc. v. Snack Crafters Inc. (2005), 74 OR (3d) 397 (SCJ)
7 Noël et Associés, at para 34
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