Canada: Une Requête En Homologation D’une Proposition Concordataire Est Contestée Et Rejetée Par Le Tribunal, Puisque N’étant Pas À L’avantage Des Créanciers

La Cour supérieure du district de Québec est saisie d'une requête en homologation d'une proposition aux termes de l'article 58 de la Loi sur la faillite et l'insolvabilité (la « LFI »). Le tribunal précise que son rôle n'est pas de modifier le contenu du concordat qui a déjà été accepté par les créanciers mais qu'il ne peut que l'approuver ou le rejeter.

En vertu de l'article 59(2) LFI, le tribunal doit déterminer si les termes de la proposition sont raisonnables, destinés à avantager l'ensemble des créanciers et qu'il n'est pas établi que le débiteur a commis l'une des infractions mentionnées aux articles 198 à 200 LFI. Le tribunal doit donc soupeser trois (3) types d'intérêt : 1) ceux du débiteur, 2) de l'ensemble des créanciers et 3) l'intérêt public et le respect de la moralité commerciale.

Le tribunal s'est notamment référé à la décision rendue par monsieur le juge Clément Gascon dans Magi (Syndic de)2006, QCCS 5129 qui reprenait les principaux critères devant guider la Cour comme suit :

  1. le fardeau de la preuve pour convaincre le tribunal repose sur le débiteur;
  2. la Cour doit soupeser les effets de l'approbation d'une proposition par rapport au rejet de celle-ci;
  3. dans l'exercice de sa discrétion, la Cour doit être convaincue que l'ensemble des créanciers pourra obtenir un avantage de cette proposition par rapport à la faillite;
  4. dans la considération des critères, la conduite du débiteur est un des facteurs examinés. Il ne doit pas y avoir apparence de collusion ou d'« avantages secrets »;
  5. le tribunal doit également étudier quel sera le résultat final pour les créanciers non garantis, c'est-à-dire l'importance du montant qu'ils seront appelés à recevoir;
  6. la présence de circonstances pouvant nécessiter la tenue d'une enquête;
  7. finalement, l'approbation par un tribunal, selon le professeur Jacques Deslauriers, « est une mesure de contrôle qui protège les droits des créanciers et assure l'éthique ou la moralité commerciale ».

De l'étude de l'ensemble des critères, le tribunal conclut donc que la Cour bénéficie d'une certaine discrétion qui va au-delà d'une analyse purement mécanique et qui ne constitue pas une simple approbation du vote des créanciers, puisque ce dernier facteur peut souvent dépendre de l'information qui a été divulguée à ces derniers.

En examinant les faits du dossier, la Cour a constaté que l'affaire n'était pas aussi simple que ce qui lui avait été initialement présenté. Les créanciers devaient renoncer à toute prétention de paiement ou avantages préférentiels en faveur de l'un d'eux. Parmi les immeubles du débiteur qui seraient tous fortement hypothéqués, l'on retrouvait une hypothèque de second rang consentie à une personne liée, et alors que le syndic au moment du vote indique dans son rapport que le résultat des transactions révisables ne sera transmis qu'ultérieurement.

Le juge s'est également posé un certain nombre de questions quant à la valeur et la teneur des actifs déclarés par le débiteur en proposition, notamment dans un contexte où les créanciers ne recevraient aux termes du processus que plus ou moins 3 % de leur créance.

L'opposition du créancier repose principalement sur le fait qu'on n'aurait pas fourni à l'ensemble des créanciers les « informations complètes et pertinentes concernant les actifs du débiteur » et que ce dernier manquerait de transparence, et qu'il serait déraisonnable que les créanciers renoncent au recours des articles 91 à 101 de la LFI.

Le tribunal, après avoir passé en revue l'ensemble des critères, doit décider si « les conditions de la proposition sont raisonnables ou destinées à avantager l'ensemble des créanciers ». Le tribunal reconnaît que la proposition est faite dans le meilleur intérêt du débiteur, pour lui permettre de régler l'ensemble de ses dettes, lui permettant ainsi un nouveau départ sans occasionner de grands sacrifices, tout en effaçant son passif et en conservant la totalité de ses biens. Le tribunal constate que quatre des dix créanciers ayant voté s'y ont opposé et que cinq de ceux ayant voté en faveur ne disposaient pas des informations additionnelles obtenues par la suite.

Selon la Cour, s'il est vrai « qu'un tien vaut mieux souvent que deux tu l'auras », il faut regarder la situation dans son ensemble. Le syndic ne peut évidemment prédire avec certitude la réalisation monétaire qu'entraînerait l'hypothèse d'une faillite. Mais cela ne doit pas servir de fin et devenir une règle, de sorte que chaque proposition doit être considérée plus avantageuse et céder le pas aux risques et difficultés de réalisation des actifs dans le cadre d'une faillite. La Cour constate que le débiteur conserverait ses immeubles, son voilier et ses actions, fait actuellement un bon salaire et que ce serait finalement la personne liée détenant une hypothèque de deuxième rang sur l'un des immeubles du débiteur qui bénéficierait le plus de la situation.

La Cour conclut donc que la proposition, même amendée, n'était pas à l'avantage des créanciers, et que le débiteur devait se soumettre au processus d'enquête plus contraignant et rigoureux qui est prévu en cas de faillite, le tout dans le but de respecter l'intégrité du processus.

La requête en homologation de la proposition concordataire amendée du débiteur a donc été rejetée et le tribunal a déclaré la faillite de ce dernier.

Campagna (Proposition de), juge Daniel Dumais. C.S. Québec 200-11-021546?141, 2014?11?10, 2014 QCCS 5786;

Commentaires du coordonnateur : nous pouvons donc retenir de cette décision et nous rappeler certains éléments importants pour la gestion des propositions par les syndics, soit :

  • le tribunal n'entérine pas automatiquement le vote des créanciers;
  • la conservation par le débiteur de tous ses actifs;
  • le pourcentage peu élevé offert aux créanciers non garantis;
  • la présence de transactions possiblement révisables.

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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