Canada: Irrégularités Mineures Et L'égalité Entre Les Soumissionnaires

( Available in French only )

Journal Constructo – 29 juin 2017

Dans une décision récente, Entreprise TGC Inc. c. Municipalité de Val-Morin[1], la Cour supérieure a condamné la municipalité Val-Morin à payer la somme de 372 529,41$ à l'entrepreneur TGC pour compenser les pertes de profits subis par ce dernier après que Val-Morin lui a injustement disqualifié de deux appels d'offres.

Dans cette affaire la Cour rappelle qu'en matière d'appels d'offres publics le donneur d'ouvrage doit traiter tous les soumissionnaires de façon égale et ne peut exercer leur discrétion de manière arbitraire afin de favoriser l'un des soumissionnaires.

Les faits

Il s'agit de deux appels d'offres émis par Val-Morin en juin 2010, l'un pour des travaux de réfection de la rue Morin (tronçon 4-1), l'autre visant la réfection des infrastructures municipales des 7e et 19e avenues. Pour chacun de ces appels d'offres TGC déposera la soumission la plus basse.

À l'analyse des soumissions déposées par TGC, Val-Morin constate que ce dernier a inscrit, à certains postes, des prix unitaires qui semblent ridiculement bas (« 0.01$ »), lesquels ne peuvent correspondre au coût réel de l'entrepreneur.  Selon la Ville, cette situation est contraire aux exigences prévues à l'appel d'offres.

En effet, le Cahier des charges générales de Val-Morin prévoyait, à son article 2.01.04.01, la clause suivante :

Contrat à prix unitaire

Considérés individuellement, les prix unitaires indiqués par le soumissionnaire aux différents articles doivent être proportionnés, c'est-à-dire ni trop élevés, ni trop bas. S'ils sont non proportionnés, la soumission pourra être jugée non conforme.

Les documents d'appel d'offres faisaient également référence à la norme NQ 1809-200 (2002), laquelle précise que chacun des prix unitaires inscrits doit correspondre au coût des travaux ou matériaux désignés. Val Morin va alors rejeter les soumissions de TGC, et les contrats seront ultimement octroyés à d'autres soumissionnaires.

Le 28 février 2012, TGC intente un recours contre Val-Morin, par lequel l'entrepreneur réclame la somme de 539 782,39 $ représentant les pertes de profits liés aux deux contrats perdus.

La position des parties

Devant la Cour, TGC plaide que l'exigence de soumettre des prix unitaires proportionnels n'est ni d'ordre public ni expressément stipulé à l'appel d'offres comme une condition essentielle, et qu'en conséquence, elle ne peut servir de motif pour ne pas retenir le plus bas soumissionnaire.

Lors de procès TGC a également présenté des explications détaillées quant à ses prix unitaires. À titre d'exemple, TGC a expliqué que pour la sous-section c-2) déblai de matériaux de deuxième classe, la sous-fondation ne requérait pas l'achat de nouveaux matériaux MG-112, car ceux-ci seraient récupérés lors des travaux d'excavation et pourraient être réutilisés (si conforme).

Autre exemple, TGC a expliqué que l'item 1.1.11 excavation de première classe indiquait qu'il pouvait y avoir du roc et une possibilité de dynamitage. Malgré ces indications, TGC estimait que les sondages et rapports de sols mis à leur disposition conjugués à leur connaissance du secteur indiquaient plutôt qu'il n'y aurait pas de rocs à dynamiter et qu'ils pourraient faire les travaux avec un marteau hydraulique au besoin. TGC n'a donc pas jugé utile de charger pour cet item.

De cette preuve, le tribunal a retenu qu'il s'agit de risques à la charge de l'entrepreneur, mais qui lui permet de réduire ces postes.

La décision

Dans un premier temps le tribunal avait à décider si l'irrégularité devait être qualifiée de majeure ou mineure. Pour le tribunal, les prix unitaires de TGC en litige représentaient des risques qu'un entrepreneur prend dans l'exécution des travaux, et l'exigence d'avoir des prix unitaires proportionnés, pour les items en litige, n'était pas essentielle. Le tribunal conclut qu'il ne s'agissait pas d'une irrégularité majeure.

L'irrégularité étant mineure, le tribunal a confirmé que la Val-Morin avait la discrétion soit de passer outre l'irrégularité et d'octroyer le contrat à TGC, ou encore de rejeter la soumission. Dans ce dernier cas cependant, Val-Morin avait l'obligation de s'assurer que tous les soumissionnaires soient traités de façon égale.

En l'espèce, le tribunal conclut que Val Morin n'a pas exercé sa discrétion de façon égalitaire. En effet, la preuve a révélé que l'adjudicataire du contrat avait lui aussi soumis des prix qui n'étaient pas proportionnés.

Sur ce point, le tribunal énonce :

Les municipalités jouissent d'une certaine latitude dans l'analyse de la conformité des soumissions. La municipalité ne peut se réfugier derrière cette latitude pour refuser indument d'accepter la plus basse soumission. L'équité, la bonne foi doivent pouvoir profiter au plus bas soumissionnaire puisque c'est à son profit et à celui de tous les contribuables que la règle d'ordre public a été établie.

Le traitement des soumissionnaires doit être équitable. Imposer une exigence à l'un pour attribuer le contrat à l'autre qui ne rencontre pas lui-même cette exigence, va à l'encontre de l'égalité entre les soumissionnaires.

Selon la preuve, le tribunal a conclu que la conduite de Val Morin a causé à l'entrepreneur TGC des dommages au montant de 372 529,41$ en perte de profits.

Cet article est paru dans l'édition du 29 juin 2017 du journal Constructo.

Footnote

[1] 2017 QCCS 2616

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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