The class action in Fortin results from a latent defect
that affected the locking system of a car model marketed in 2004.
According to the Court, a push, a kick or a punch strategically
directed above the handle of the driver's door was enough to
neutralize the vehicle's locking system. Based on the
provisions of Quebec's Consumer Protection Act, the
Court found that the owners of this car model who have been victims
of theft were entitled to compensation for the cost of the required
repairs, the value of the stolen items and the cost of related
Non-monetary damages were also claimed by class members
respecting the risk of having their car vandalized and the
continual search for safe parking spaces, as well as the troubles,
damages and inconvenience resulting from visits to their car
dealership to repair the locking system.
The Court rejected the claims for non-monetary damages based on
the Sofio decision and the de minimis maxim.
Regarding the class members' concerns of the risk of having
their car vandalized and the continual search for safe parking
spaces, the Court first noted that the application was silent on
this aspect. It added that the evidence was tenuous in this
respect, to the point where the damages claimed seemed hardly
With respect to the trouble, damages and inconvenience resulting
from visits to the car dealership to repair the locking system, the
Court shared the view of the trial judge, who rejected these
damages on the ground that they were ordinary life inconveniences.
First, according to the Court, because of its highly individual
aspect, this part of the claim does not lend itself to collective
compensation. Second, even assuming that the class members have
experienced such inconveniences, the Court concluded that
[TRANSLATION] "obviously, they do not exceed the normal
inconveniences that all vehicle owners face from time to time in
the course of a normal year", and adopted the following
 "The law of civil liability does not aim to
compensate a party for all frustrations and sensitivities related
to any failure on the part of those with whom he or she interacts,
if only because of the great degree of subjectivity that comes with
requests of this nature. Also, it is not appropriate to seize the
courts for individual claims based on trivial consequences [...],
rules often expressed contained in the form of the Latin maxim
de minimis non curat lex."
In two recent decisions, the Court of Appeal of Quebec has
upheld the application of the de minimis principle in
class action matters to reject claims based on "troubles,
damages and inconvenience" that do not exceeded normal
inconveniences in the circumstances. The Court also confirmed that
the rule is, notably, based on the principle of proportionality,
now a guiding principle of Quebec civil procedure, under which it
is not appropriate to monopolize judicial resources for individual
claims based on trivial consequences. Thus, it can safely be said
that the de minimis principle has made a comeback in the
Quebec law of class actions.
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