Canada: Clause De Paiement Sur Paiement : Obligation À Terme Ou Obligation Conditionnelle?

Les clauses dites de paiement sur paiement sont fréquemment utilisées dans les rapports contractuels entre entrepreneurs généraux et entrepreneurs spécialisés. L'objectif derrière une telle clause est de protéger l'entrepreneur général en cas de défaut de paiement du donneur d'ouvrage.

Ainsi, l'entrepreneur général insèrera souvent au contrat le liant avec un sous-traitant, une clause suivant laquelle il ne sera tenu de payer ce dernier qu'au moment où il recevra lui-même paiement du donneur d'ouvrage.

Bien que ce type de clause représente un lourd fardeau pour les entrepreneurs spécialisés, lesquels se trouvent à financer le projet jusqu'au paiement par le donneur d'ouvrage, les tribunaux ont reconnu la validité de ce type de clause.

Malgré le fait que ce genre de clause soit largement utilisé, la jurisprudence traitant de leur impact et application demeurait jusqu'à présent somme toute limitée.

Cette situation a évolué au cours des 12 derniers mois alors que deux décisions ont été rendues sur le sujet, soit la décision de la Cour supérieure dans l'affaire Plomberie KRTB inc. c. Construction Citadelle inc.1 ainsi que l'arrêt de la Cour d'appel dans l'affaire Design & construction Giffels Québec inc. c. Excavation Yelle inc.2.

Il est à noter que ces deux décisions traitaient du même enjeu juridique, à savoir l'application et les impacts d'une telle clause lorsque le donneur d'ouvrage fait faillite. Dans les deux cas, l'entrepreneur spécialisé réclamait de l'entrepreneur général le paiement de factures impayées suivant la faillite de leur donneur d'ouvrage.

Afin de faciliter la compréhension de ces décisions et des enseignements qu'il faut en tirer, il est opportun de reproduire les deux clauses qui devaient être analysées.

1. Décision KRTB

« L'entrepreneur général paiera au sous-traitant dans les 10 jours, le jour suivant où il aura reçu le paiement progressif du propriétaire, le montant qui aura été approuvé et certifié par le consultant, diminué d'une retenue de 10 % sur chaque paiement mensuel jusqu'à la facturation finale. La retenue de 10 % sera payée dans les 30 jours suivant la réception définitive des travaux à la condition que toutes les obligations s'y rattachant soient remplies. »

2. Décision Giffels

« Toute facturation devra être émise à Design et Construction Giffels Québec inc. et envoyé (sic) le 21 du mois. Toute facturation doit être accompagnée d'une ventilation détaillée des coûts.

« Après vérification, l'entrepreneur règle normalement les demandes de paiement du sous-traitant dans les 30 jours qui suivent la date de la fin de la période ou dans les 5 jours suivant le paiement par le propriétaire, la date la plus tardive prévalent (sic). »

Dans ces deux causes, les sous-traitants prétendaient que, telles que rédigées, les clauses de paiement sur paiement constituaient des obligations à terme. Suivant ce raisonnement, l'entrepreneur général, par l'ajout de la clause de paiement sur paiement, ne faisait que repousser l'échéance du paiement à l'arrivée d'un événement futur et certain, à savoir, le paiement par le donneur d'ouvrage. Or, ce dernier ayant fait faillite, l'événement futur et certain devient impossible à réaliser et les sommes visées par le terme deviennent donc exigibles sur-le-champ, suivant les règles applicables aux obligations à terme prévues au Code civil du Québec3.

De leur côté, les entrepreneurs généraux prétendent plutôt que les clauses de paiement sur paiement, telles que rédigées, décrivent une obligation conditionnelle de sorte que les paiements aux sous-traitants ne pourraient être réclamés qu'à condition qu'ils obtiennent eux-mêmes paiement de la part du donneur d'ouvrage. Puisque ce dernier a fait faillite, aucune somme ne serait payable aux sous-traitants.

Dans les deux affaires, les tribunaux ont conclu que la formulation des clauses de paiement sur paiement comprises à ces contrats constituait des obligations à terme et non conditionnelle.

Notamment, les tribunaux ont soulevé l'absence de termes tels que « pourvu que », « si », « à condition que », qui sont normalement utilisés lorsque l'on désire assujettir un paiement à une condition.

Au contraire, la formulation des clauses à analyser laissait plutôt sous-entendre aux sous-traitants que le paiement par le donneur d'ouvrage était un événement futur et certain.

Dans les deux causes citées, les tribunaux ont donné raison aux sous-traitants réclamants.

La Cour d'appel a notamment réitéré le principe suivant lequel il appartient à l'entrepreneur général de formuler sa clause de paiement sur paiement de façon non équivoque s'il désire qu'elle soit interprétée comme une obligation conditionnelle :

« [24] La portée d'une clause dite de « paiement sur paiement » dépend donc de sa rédaction et de l'intention des parties qui y souscrivent. Il peut s'agir soit d'une obligation conditionnelle soit d'une obligation à terme. Ajoutons qu'un entrepreneur qui souhaite que le règlement des demandes de paiement d'un sous-entrepreneur soit conditionnel au paiement des travaux en cause par le propriétaire de l'ouvrage doit s'exprimer en termes clairs. Une condition aussi importante et essentielle ne peut s'inférer d'un libellé ambigu, vague, imprécis ou sujet à de multiples interprétations. Il faut être clair et précis. »

Il est maintenant bien établi que les clauses de paiement sur paiement sont légales et reconnues comme telles par les tribunaux québécois. Cependant, il appartient à l'entrepreneur général de s'assurer que la formulation de la clause répond adéquatement à ses attentes. Ainsi, si l'intention de ce dernier est de faire en sorte que le paiement à son sous-traitant soit conditionnel au paiement du donneur d'ouvrage, il lui appartient d'utiliser des termes qui l'exprime de façon non équivoque.

Suivant les enseignements de la Cour d'appel, l'utilisation de termes tels que « pourvu que », « si », « à condition que » serait indiquée.

Footnotes

[1] Plomberie KRTB inc. c. Construction Citadelle inc., 2015 QCCS 3103

[2] Design & construction Giffels Québec inc. c. Excavation Yelle inc., 2016, QCCA 256

[3] Art. 1510 C.c.Q.

Cet article est paru dans l'édition du jeudi 25 février 2016 du journal Constructo

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions