Canada: Quebec Superior Court Looks At Estoppel In The Context Of A Wellington Motion

On July 9, 2018, Justice Pierre Ouellet dismissed a Wellington motion brought by Construction CGP Inc. and Les Entreprises Rosario Martel Inc. (the Insureds) against four insurance companies (the Insurers). The Superior Court of Quebec decision in Société des traversiers du Québec c. Construction CGP inc.1 is relevant for many reasons, particularly regarding the court's guidance on the doctrine of estoppel in the context of a Wellington motion.

The procedural context and the denial of coverage letters

Following a winter storm in December 2014 that damaged several parts of a wharf on which the Insureds were working, the Insurers were notified of a claim and appointed a claims adjusting firm which, on their behalf, deemed the claim inadmissible based on particular exclusions found in the Commercial General Liability insurance policy (the Policy).2

In December 2017, the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) instituted proceedings against several parties, including the Insureds, for damages resulting from the 2014 winter storm. After being advised of this action, the Insurers once again appointed the claims adjusting firm. The claims adjusters reiterated the position of denial but this time, only with respect to part of the claim.3 Following the Insurers' refusal to defend the Insureds against part of STQ's claim, the Insureds filed a Wellington motion in order to compel the Insurers to take up their defence in the entire action.4

In April 2018, following the Insureds' filing of the Wellington motion, the STQ amended its proceedings.

At the Wellington motion hearing, counsel for the Insurers informed the Court that two other exclusions of the Policy, but which had not been reproduced in the denial of coverage letters, applied.5

The estoppel 6 doctrine

At the outset and without hesitation, Justice Ouellet concluded that the exclusions expressly raised in the denial of coverage letters did not apply. As for those raised at the hearing by counsel for the Insureds, Justice Ouellet was of the opinion that they applied subject to the application of estoppel.7

On this point, counsel for the Insureds submitted several precedents8 to Justice Ouellet showing that the Insurers should be barred from raising the application of any additional exclusions that were not raised at the first opportunity in the denial of coverage letters.

However, after a careful analysis of the case law submitted by counsel for the Insureds,9 Justice Ouellet concluded that the case at bar was very different than the precedents relied upon by the Insureds. In Justice Ouellet's opinion, the facts alleged in STQ's amended proceedings, which followed both the denial of coverage letters and the filing of the Wellington motion, clarified and crystalized the allegations of negligence against the Insureds. For this reason, the Insurers were within their rights to raise the additional exclusions. Consequently, the Insurers cannot be blamed for having failed to raise the exclusions at the first opportunity.10

This recent decision of the Superior Court of Quebec can be seen as reaffirming the principle according to which the doctrine of estoppel cannot be raised where an insurer is ignorant of the facts upon which he is afforded a right an insured alleges it waives. It will be interesting to see if this decision will be appealed and, if so, how the appellate court will address these issues (as of the date of publication of the present legal update, the time period for filing an appeal has not yet expired).11

The author wishes to thank law student Hugo Séguin for his help in preparing this Legal update.


1. 2018 QCCS 3088.

2. Ibid at para 5.

3. Ibid at para 28.

4. Ibid at para 1.

5. Ibid at para 8.

6. Note that Justice Ouellet does not refer expressly to the doctrine of estoppel, which originates from common law, but rather to a similar doctrine, which under Quebec law is called fin de non-recevoir.

7. Ibid at paras 14-16.

8. Ibid at para 24; Lapointe-Boucher c. Mutuelle-vie des fonctionnaires, 1996 CanLII 5921 (QC CA); Di Capua c. Barreau du Québec, 2003 CanLII 13471 (QC CA); Benson c. Fonds d'assurance responsabilité professionnelle du Barreau du Québec, 2010 QCCS 2274; Lombard du Canada ltée c. Ezeflow inc., 2008 QCCA 1759.

9. Ibid at para 27.

10. Ibid at paras 28-30.

11. The parties have 30 days from the date of the notice of judgment (July 17, 2018) to appeal this decision.

About Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Norton Rose Fulbright is a global law firm. We provide the world's preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have 3800 lawyers and other legal staff based in more than 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Recognized for our industry focus, we are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of legal service in each of our offices and to maintain that level of quality at every point of contact.

For more information about Norton Rose Fulbright, see

Law around the world

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

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

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please 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 (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

To Use 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.


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.


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