Canada: La Cour D’Appel Du Québec Confirme Que Les Lois Et Règlements D’Ordre Public Applicables Aux Contrats Réglementés Ne Constituent Pas Des Clauses Externes

Le 29 janvier 20151, la Cour suprême du Canada a refusé la demande d'autorisation d'en appeler du jugement de la Cour d'appel du Québec rendu le 30 mai 20142, par lequel la Cour d'appel confirme une décision de la Cour supérieure3 rejetant la réclamation au montant de 13,5 M$ présentée par un joueur à la loterie Super 7 qui prétendait avoir gagné le gros lot lors du tirage du 23 mai 2008.

Faits

Le 23 mai 2008, peu avant 21 h, l'appelant s'est présenté chez un détaillant autorisé de Loto-Québec et a demandé au commis s'il restait assez de temps pour acheter des billets de la loterie Super 7 pour le tirage du soir. Après que ce dernier lui ait répondu par l'affirmative, tout en lui précisant qu'il fallait faire vite, l'appelant s'est procuré deux billets « mise-éclair », avec une participation à l' « extra ». Le premier billet sorti du terminal portait la date du tirage du 23 mai 2008. Quelques secondes plus tard, le second billet est sorti du terminal en portant la date du tirage de la semaine suivante, soit le 30 mai 2008. Le commis a demandé à l'appelant s'il désirait néanmoins le billet et l'appelant a décidé de le conserver. Le hasard a voulu que les numéros apparaissant sur le billet portant la date de tirage du 30 mai correspondent à la combinaison gagnante pour le tirage du 23 mai. Persuadé de détenir le billet gagnant puisque sa demande avait été faite avant 21h, l'appelant a entrepris des démarches auprès de Loto-Québec pour réclamer le lot qu'il croyait avoir gagné. Loto-Québec a refusé de verser à l'appelant la somme réclamée, au motif que ce dernier ne détenait pas un billet valide gagnant en vertu du règlement applicable, soit le Règlement sur les concours de pronostics et des jeux sur numéros4 (le Règlement).

Au soutien de sa demande, l'appelant prétendait que la publicité de Loto-Québec comporte tous les éléments essentiels du contrat de jeu et constitue donc une offre de contracter. Ainsi, selon lui, la formation du contrait a eu lieu au moment où il a accepté l'offre, soit à l'entrée des données de sa demande faite avant 21 h, de sorte que Loto-Québec avait l'obligation de lui émettre deux billets pour le tirage du 23 mai 2008. L'appelant soutenait également que la clause référant au Règlement à l'endos du billet ne lui était pas opposable en vertu des articles 1435 à 1437 du Code civil du Québec (CcQ), puisqu'il prétendait qu'elle n'avait pas été portée à sa connaissance avant la conclusion du contrat, et que les règles du contrat de jeu qui en découlent sont incompréhensibles pour l'adhérent, en plus d'être excessives.

Décisions

Quant au premier argument, la Cour supérieure avait conclu que la publicité de Loto-Québec ne constituait qu'une invitation à contracter puisqu'elle ne contenait pas tous les éléments essentiels à la conclusion du contrat, en l'occurrence la sélection de la combinaison, le montant de la mise et la date du tirage. La demande de l'appelant constituait donc l'offre que Loto-Québec avait acceptée, lorsque la demande de l'appelant a été enregistrée dans son ordinateur central, 7 secondes après l'heure de fermeture des mises, à 21 h. Ainsi, la Cour supérieure avait conclu que le contrat avait été formé pour le tirage de la semaine suivante. Contrairement à la Cour supérieure, la Cour d'appel estime que la publicité de Loto-Québec comporte tous les éléments essentiels du contrat de jeu, de sorte qu'elle constitue une offre. Le contrat s'est en conséquence formé lorsque Loto-Québec a reçu l'acceptation de l'appelant. Après analyse des dispositions pertinentes du Règlement applicable, la Cour d'appel conclut que le contrat relatif au second billet s'est formé après 21 h, lorsque l'acceptation de l'appelant a été enregistrée dans l'ordinateur central. Loto-Québec était donc bien fondée de refuser la réclamation de l'appelant, puisqu'il n'était pas détenteur d'un billet valide gagnant pour le tirage du 23 mai 2008. La Cour d'appel confirme également la conclusion de la Cour supérieure suivant laquelle la combinaison figurant sur le billet portant la date de tirage du 30 mai 2008 aurait été différente si le billet avait porté la date du 23 mai 2008.

Quant au second argument, la Cour supérieure avait conclu que la clause figurant au verso du billet faisant référence au Règlement était une clause externe, mais que la divulgation était suffisante pour être opposable à l'appelant. La Cour d'appel conclut plutôt que la loi et les règlements d'ordre public applicables à un contrat réglementé, tel le contrat de jeu, font partie du contenu obligationnel implicite du contrat en vertu de l'article 1434 CcQ et ne peuvent donc pas être qualifiés de clauses externes, même s'ils concernent un contrat d'adhésion. En conséquence, le Règlement qui régissait le contrat de jeu intervenu entre l'appelant et Loto-Québec ne constituait pas une clause externe.

En adoptant cette position quant à l'opposabilité de la loi et des règlements, la Cour d'appel a réglé une controverse doctrinale et clarifié le droit applicable aux contrats réglementés. Ainsi, il ne fait désormais aucun doute que, dans le cadre d'un contrat d'adhésion réglementé, la loi et les règlements d'ordre public sont opposables à l'adhérent, sans qu'il ne soit nécessaire de faire la preuve qu'ils ont été portés à la connaissance de ce dernier préalablement à la conclusion du contrat.

Footnotes

1 Ifergan c Société des loteries du Québec, demande de pourvoi rejetée (36023) : 29 janvier 2015.

2 Ifergan c Société des loteries du Québec, 2014 QCCA 1114, juges Thibault, Doyon et Dutil.

3 Ifergan c Société des loteries du Québec, 2012 QCCS 5600, juge Lalande.

4 RRQ, c S-13.1, r 1.

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