Canada: Recours annoncé en révision des appels d'offres

Dans la foulée des recommandations contenues au rapport de la Commission Charbonneau, le gouvernement a tout récemment publié le Projet de loi 108, destiné notamment à créer l'Autorité des marchés publics ( " l'Autorité " ).

Or, parmi le train de mesures proposées dans cette pièce législative, il y a lieu de souligner la mise en place de dispositions permettant à tout intéressé de se plaindre à l'encontre d'un processus d'appel d'offres public qui n'assurerait pas l'admissibilité à soumissionner des candidats qualifiés ainsi que le traitement intègre et équitable des concurrents dans le cadre de l'appel d'offres.

Le projet de loi envisage un mécanisme de plainte en deux temps : d'abord auprès de l'organisme public lui-même puis, éventuellement, par la suite, auprès de l'Autorité des marchés publics.

Des amendements envisagés à la Loi sur les contrats des organismes publics imposeraient à tout organisme public de se doter d'une procédure sur le traitement desdites plaintes, procédure qui devrait être rendue publique.

L'organisme public devrait rendre sa décision sur toute plainte reçue après la date limite établie pour la réception des plaintes et au moins 3 jours avant la date fixée de la clôture de l'appel d'offres.

L'organisme devrait éventuellement, en fonction de la date de reddition de sa décision et du délai restant avant la clôture, reporter la date de clôture de l'appel d'offres de manière à ce qu'il y ait un délai d'au moins 7 jours entre la date de la décision de l'organisme et la date de clôture révisée de l'appel d'offres.

Ces délais sont requis aux fins de favoriser la participation des soumissionnaires dans le cadre de l'appel d'offres sujet à la plainte. De plus, ces délais s'imposent afin de donner le temps nécessaire au plaignant de porter sa plainte devant l'Autorité avant la clôture de l'appel d'offres.

En effet, dans le cas où la décision de l'organisme s'avérait défavorable au plaignant ou dans celui où l'organisme omettait de rendre sa décision dans les délais prescrits, le plaignant pourrait alors porter sa plainte devant l'Autorité des marchés publics.

Suite à la réception d'une telle plainte, l'Autorité devrait s'adresser à l'organisme pour recueillir ses observations. Par la suite, la décision de l'Autorité devrait être rendue dans les 10 jours suivant la réception des observations reçues de l'organisme.

La date de clôture de l'appel d'offres devrait être reportée pour prendre en compte la décision rendue par l'Autorité : il devra y avoir au moins 7 jours entre la date de la décision de l'Autorité et la clôture lorsque la décision de l'Autorité est de nature à entraîner une modification au dossier d'appel d'offres. Dans le cas contraire, le délai devrait tout de même être d'au moins 2 jours.

Il importe de noter que le projet de loi comporte une disposition visant à interdire toutes représailles visant un plaignant pour le motif qu'il aurait déposé une plainte à l'organisme ou à l'Autorité. Par ailleurs, le projet précise aussi que le processus de plainte et les décisions en découlant ne constitueront pas un empêchement à l'institution d'éventuels recours juridiques basés sur les mêmes faits.

Cela étant, le projet de loi précise aussi que l'Autorité rejettera automatiquement une plainte si les faits invoqués sont déjà allégués dans une procédure judiciaire instituée par le plaignant.

Un des principaux attributs de la loi envisagée par le législateur est que l'Autorité se verrait accorder le pouvoir d'ordonner à l'organisme de modifier les documents d'appel d'offres de la manière qu'il prescrit dans sa décision rendue sur une plainte formulée.

À noter que le projet de loi prévoit aussi la possibilité pour une personne ayant manifesté son intérêt à réaliser un contrat, de faire appel à l'Autorité à l'encontre de l'intention exprimée par un organisme public d'accorder un contrat de gré à gré, sans appel d'offres. Dans un tel cas, l'Autorité pourrait ordonner à l'organisme de ne pas contracter sans tenir un appel d'offres au préalable.

Il est à noter que le projet de loi tel que conçu actuellement ne prévoit pas de pouvoir d'intervention de l'Autorité dans le cadre de l'exercice de sélection de l'adjudicataire à l'issue de l'appel d'offres. À cet égard, les justiciables devront continuer à s'en remettre aux tribunaux, soit en quête d'une ordonnance d'injonction, soit en vue d'obtenir une condamnation en dommages s'ils arrivent à démontrer que l'organisme public a commis une faute leur ayant causé préjudice dans l'application des règles de l'appel d'offres.

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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