Canada: La Cour Supérieure Refuse De Lever La Suspension Des Procédures En Faveur D’une Compagnie D’assurance Et Maintient La Juridiction Du Québec

La Cour est saisie d'une requête pour lever la suspension des procédures ordonnée en faveur de Montreal, Maine & Altlantic Railway Ltd (ci-après MMA). L'audition de la requête a eu lieu conjointement avec la présentation d'une requête identique déposée devant un juge de tribunal de faillite du Maine, dossier de la compagnie mère de MMA située aux États-Unis.

Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (ci-après: Travelers) demande la permission de déposer une requête pour jugement déclaratoire devant le United State District Court of the District of Maine. Cette requête est contestée par le syndic de MMA au Canada ainsi que le syndic représentant la compagnie mère de MMA aux États-Unis. L'audition de la requête a été commune et a eu lieu grâce à un protocole d'insolvabilité transfrontalière. Les parties s'entendent que les tribunaux du Québec ont juridiction pour entendre cette requête pour jugement déclaratoire; cette compétence se dégage de l'article 3150 du Code civil du Québec qui stipule que :

« Les autorités québécoises ont également compétence pour décider de l'action fondée sur un contrat d'assurance lorsque le titulaire, l'assuré ou le bénéficiaire du contrat a son domicile ou sa résidence au Québec, lorsque le contrat porte sur un intérêt d'assurance qui est situé, ou encore lorsque le sinistre y est survenu. »

Travelers voudrait cependant que le tribunal lève l'ordonnance de sursis des procédures afin de lui permettre de présenter sa requête devant le District Court du Maine.

À la suite d'une émission d'une police d'assurance émise le 19 avril 2013, un litige est survenu entre Travelers et MMA concernant la couverture et la limite d'assurance dont bénéficiait MMA. Le litige entre les parties concerne l'assurance pour perte de profits que Travelers aurait émis par erreur. Travelers souligne que tous les assurés sous cette police d'assurance américaine ont leur place d'affaires aux États-Unis, sauf pour MMA Canada. Malgré cela, MMA Canada s'est placée sous la protection de la Loi sur les arrangements avec les créanciers des compagnies à la suite d'un accident ferroviaire survenu le 6 juillet 2013 dans la ville de Mégantic. MMA admet sa responsabilité pour ce tragique accident.

Travelers plaide que le US District Court du Maine serait mieux placé pour entendre cette requête étant donné que les témoins potentiels, incluant ses employés, résident aux États-Unis et qu'il serait plus facile d'émettre des subpoenas à des témoins américains si le tout se déroulait aux États-Unis plutôt qu'au Canada. La Cour souligne que ce problème est plutôt mineur étant donné que le cross-border protocol prévoit que le US Bankruptcy Court pourra émettre des subpoenas si nécessaire et que ces derniers pouvaient également être exécutés rapidement. Travelers souligne également que c'est la compagnie mère américaine qui a subi une perte de revenu et non pas la compagnie canadienne. Travelers en arrive à cette conclusion en faisant abstraction du fait qu'il pourrait y avoir une différence notable entre une perte de revenu et des comptes recevables pouvant être assurés.

La Cour décide qu'elle n'a pas à entrer dans le fond du litige d'assurances pour décider de la présente requête, soit de décider si elle a juridiction ou pas.

La Cour refuse d'accorder la demande à la compagnie d'assurance puisque le critère de la loi applicable n'est pas déterminant.

De plus, en vertu du critère du « contrôle unique », la Cour mentionne qu'il appartenait à la compagnie d'assurance requérante de démontrer l'existence d'un motif suffisant pour justifier que les procédures soient prises ou continuées dans un autre district que le district de St-François.

Pour ces raisons, le Tribunal en est venu à la conclusion que la compagnie d'assurance n'avait pas « surmonté son fardeau de démontrer que le sursis des procédures ne devait plus s'appliquer à elle ».

In the matter of the arrangement relating to : Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Canada Co. / (Montréal, Maine & Atlantique Canada Cie)et Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd et als, C.S. 450-11-000167-134, jugement du 9 octobre 2013, Juge Gaétan Dumas.

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