Canada: Insolvency And Restructuring Newsletter- Quebec - Summer 2014

La Cour supérieure établit que lorsqu'un failli décide de ne pas se prévaloir des services d'un avocat en matière de faillite, il ne peut par la suite prétendre qu'il n'a pas eu droit à une défense pleine et entière. Le Registraire a le pouvoir de baser sa décision de suspendre ou de refuser une libération sur les faits mis en preuve devant lui.

La Cour supérieure a dû déterminer, dans cette affaire, si le fait qu'un Surintendant change sa recommandation de suspendre ou de refuser une libération en cours d'argumentation contrevient au droit d'un failli de se prémunir d'une défense pleine et entière.

Malgré les recommandations du Surintendant, la faillie ne se serait pas pourvu des services de représentation d'un avocat avant d'entamer les procédures devant le Registraire. Le Surintendant aurait, pour sa part, initialement  recommandé dans sa procédure de suspendre la libération. Au courant de l'argumentation toutefois, le Surintendant a recommandé un refus de la libération.

La faillie maintient alors avoir été prise par surprise et qu'à ce moment, le Registraire aurait dû arrêter l'audition, lui indiquer les conséquences de cette recommandation et lui suggérer de consulter un avocat pour la suite des choses. En ne faisant pas cela, le Registraire n'aurait pas, selon la faillie, respecté les règles de justice naturelle et son droit d'avoir une défense pleine et entière.

La Cour a déterminé que ce n'était pas le cas. En examinant les circonstances de la situation, elle a établit que les faits mentionnés à l'article 173 de la Loi sur la faillite et l'insolvabilité (la LFI)se sont produits et que, selon l'article 172, le tribunal pouvait suspendre la libération. Le Surintendant pouvait, selon les articles 168.2 (1) a) donner un avis d'opposition à la libération au syndic et au failli.

La Cour établit donc que le fait que le Surintendant change sa recommandation n'enclenchait pas l'obligation pour le Registraire de suspendre l'audition et de suggérer à la faillie de consulter un avocat, puisqu'il est de la compétence du Registraire de décider des options qu'il a devant lui et selon les pouvoirs que la loi lui confère d'après l'article 172 (2). De plus, ce changement est survenu au moment de l'argumentation et la preuve était donc close. Le droit à la défense pleine et entière de la faillie n'était pas atteint puisqu'elle avait préalablement refusé les services de représentation par un avocat.

Dans l'affaire de la faillite de Nira Ahmed et MNP Ltée, C.S. 500-11-043938-139, jugement du 23 janvier 2014, Juge Claude Auclair.

La Cour supérieure rappelle que le fardeau est sur le créancier de prouver l'existence d'une exception sur la base de laquelle un débiteur ne devrait pas être libéré de ses dettes malgré une ordonnance de libération.

L'appelant soutient que l'ordonnance de libération ne devrait pas libérer l'intimée sur la base de l'article 178 (1)(e) de la Loi sur la faillite et l'insolvabilité, soit parce que l'intimée aurait supposément obtenu les prêts par des faux-semblants ou la présentation erronée et frauduleuse des faits.

La Cour explique que cet article constitue une exception au principe général qu'une ordonnance de libération libère le failli de toutes ses dettes afin de permettre sa réhabilitation économique et sociale, s'il est un débiteur de bonne foi.

Pour se faire, l'appelant doit démontrer une intention frauduleuse chez le failli en prouvant par prépondérance des probabilités que la représentation a été faite, que celle-ci était fausse, que la représentation a été faite en ayant conscience de la fausseté sans que l'intimé n'en croit sa véracité ou qu'elle ait été faite de manière négligente par rapport au fait de savoir si les affirmations étaient vraies ou fausses, et que le créancier s'est fié à cette représentation et à donné la propriété au débiteur.

Ici, l'appelant ne s'est pas déchargé de son fardeau de démontrer l'existence de fausses représentations et d'une intention frauduleuse de la part de l'intimée. Les sommes prêtées devaient être utilisées pour des fins d'affaire et rien ne démontre que ce n'aurait pas été le cas. L'exception prévue à l'article 178 (1) ne trouve donc pas application et le débiteur est ainsi libéré.

Dans l'affaire de la faillite de Khatereh Rostami, C.A. 500-09-023740-137 et 500-09023750-136, jugement du 10 février 2014, Juges Paul Vézina, Marie St-Pierre et Martin Vauclair.

La Cour supérieure concède que les créanciers peuvent exiger le paiement de la part des cautions lorsque qu'un arrangement est en cours. Toutefois, la Cour a le pouvoir discrétionnaire de suspendre ce droit si la caution est impliquée dans le réarrangement.

La question en litige requiert de déterminer si malgré un plan d'arrangement sous la Loi sur les arrangements financiers avec les créanciers des compagnies (LCAA), les créanciers peuvent tout de même exiger le paiement de la dette par une caution.

La LCAA permet à ce qu'un plan de restructuration soit mis en place afin de réévaluer la situation financière d'un failli. Les effets de la loi sont de geler, pendant une période de sursis, le passé financier d'une entreprise pour lui permettre de se réarranger.

Le tribunal estime que le réarrangement, à l'article 11.04 de la loi, n'inclut pas la caution dans la définition de la compagnie, puisqu'elle est un tiers, et donc, les créanciers peuvent lui exiger le paiement. Toutefois, la Cour établit qu'elle détient tout de même un pouvoir discrétionnaire général lui permettant de suspendre les procédures à l'encontre de la caution. Pour que cela se produise, il doit exister une certaine connexité à la caution aux faits du remboursement. Par exemple, la caution pourra obtenir une quittance de la part d'un créancier si elle est impliquée dans la relance de l'entreprise. Si celle-ci ne l'est pas, elle ne peut recevoir ladite quittance.

Il ne s'agit pas d'une interdiction de poursuivre la caution en soi, mais bien de prendre un temps de recul pour évaluer la meilleure façon d'opérer. Si le dossier traînait en longueur, les créanciers garantis pourraient toujours revenir à la charge et demander la modification de l'ordonnance initiale.

Dans l'affaire de la Loi sur les arrangements avec les créanciers des compagnies Les Gestions N.A. Carrier Inc. et Charles Morissette et als., C.S. 410-11-002313-136, jugement du 17 février 2014, Juge Raymond W. Pronovost.

To view the full newsletter "Insolvency And Restructuring Newsletter- Quebec - Summer 2014" please click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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