Canada: L'obligation du soumissionnaire de se renseigner en l'absence d'information particulière

Journal Constructo – 14 septembre 2018

Dans la décision 9148-0657 Québec c. EBC inc.[1] qu'elle a rendue récemment, la Cour rappelle que le soumissionnaire doit se renseigner en l'absence d'information particulière quant à la nature des conditions du site.

En plus de rappeler l'obligation de renseignement de l'entrepreneur, cette décision est particulièrement intéressante puisqu'elle traite de divers enjeux juridiques dont il est question dans le cadre de l'exécution de travaux commandés par le ministère des Transports du Québec (« MTQ »).

Cette décision traite notamment des effets des changements aux quantités en présence d'un prix unitaire forfaitaire, du droit de l'entrepreneur général d'intervenir dans les travaux d'un sous-traitant et du défaut de respecter le processus de réclamation prévu au Cahier des charges et devis généraux (« CCDG »).

Les faits

Le MTQ a consenti à La Coentreprise Échangeur A15-A640 2011 EBC-DEMIX (« Coentreprise ») le contrat de réaménagement de l'échangeur des autoroutes 15 et 640. Le 19 décembre 2011, EBC Inc. (« EBC ») octroie à 9148-0657 Québec Inc. (« 9148 ») le contrat pour la réalisation de travaux de désamiantage sur les surfaces de béton des ponts d'étagement de la Montée Sanche.

Le contrat de 9148 est d'une valeur de 100 900 $, soit 40 000 $ à titre de montant forfaitaire pour l'organisation de chantier et un prix unitaire de 29 $ du mètre carré pour une surface estimée de 2100 mètres carrés selon les documents d'appel d'offres. La soumission de 9148 se fonde sur son expérience, sur les plans et devis et sur le certificat d'analyse de caractérisation confirmant la présence de fibres d'amiante.

Au départ, 9148 prévoyait utiliser des meuleuses et des grattoirs manuels. Une fois les travaux entamés, 9148 constate la présence d'une colle sous forme époxydique contenant de l'amiante. 9148 est donc contrainte de changer sa méthode d'exécution et adopte ainsi une méthode alternative par jet d'eau. Cette méthode requiert la location de deux machines de 40 000 psi de pression chacune ainsi que le paiement de frais pour l'assistance technique requise. Ce changement entraîne un coût supplémentaire de 70 019,78 dollars pour 9148.

En cours d'exécution, EBC décide d'intervenir et effectue des travaux de désamiantage en même temps que 9148, et ce, malgré l'opposition de cette dernière. EBC justifie son intervention en prétendant que les travaux de 9148 ne progressent pas selon l'échéancier. Les travaux de 9148 se terminent le 14 juin 2012. Au total, une surface de 1530 mètres carrés a été traitée par 9148. Impayée, cette dernière intente un recours contre EBC et la caution afin d'obtenir paiement d'une somme de 162 304,16 dollars, toutes taxes incluses, ventilée ainsi :

116 009,17 $ sur le contrat principal

+ 70 019,78 $ pour la location de l'équipement spécialisé

– 23 724,79 $ versés en paiement partiel par EBC

Total : 162 304,16 $

Bien qu'elle conteste la somme réclamée par 9148 en raison, entre autres, de l'application d'une retenue de 61 231,20 dollars pour son implication dans les travaux de désamiantage, EBC appelle en garantie la Coentreprise et le MTQ afin d'être indemnisée dans l'éventualité où un jugement serait prononcé à son encontre.

La décision

La réclamation de 9148 concernant le solde contractuel se fonde sur les quantités prévues lors de la soumission, soit 2100 mètres carrés. Bien qu'en réalité 9148 n'ait désamianté que 1530 mètres carrés, cette dernière soutient que le contrat était fixé à 116 009,17 dollars, peu importe la superficie de la surface désamiantée. Or, le tribunal ne retient pas la position de 9148 et il conclut que le prix convenu était de 40 000 dollars pour l'organisation du chantier et de 29 dollars le mètre carré, peu importe les quantités. Ainsi, il accorde à EBC la somme de 84 370 dollars, taxes en sus, pour la superficie désamiantée de 1530 mètres carrés.

Quant à la réclamation de 70 019,78 dollars pour la location de l'équipement spécialisé, le tribunal rejette cette réclamation après analyse de la preuve. Il conclut que la situation vécue par 9148 ne résulte pas d'un manquement de la part d'EBC ou du MTQ dans leur obligation de renseignement envers 9148, mais plutôt de l'omission de celle-ci de vérifier la nature précise du revêtement qu'elle devait enlever.

Les plans et devis ne faisaient aucune mention de la composition du revêtement devant être retiré par 9148. Il revenait donc à 9148 de se renseigner auprès d'EBC ou du MTQ avant de sélectionner sa méthode de désamiantage. Toutefois, 9148 a plutôt choisi de se fier à ses expériences antérieures lors de la réalisation de travaux similaires pour présumer du type de revêtement à désamianter afin d'effectuer son choix de méthode à utiliser.

Quant à la retenue appliquée par EBC, la Cour détermine que celle-ci semble déraisonnable et excessive et qu'EBC n'a pas établi qu'elle aurait subi un préjudice causé par le retard dans les travaux de désamiantage en l'absence de son intervention. Le tribunal tranche donc que cette retenue « ne repose pas sur des motifs valables et ne doit pas être déduite du montant réclamé par 91482 [2] ».

Le tribunal fait donc droit en partie à la réclamation de 9148 et condamne EBC et la caution à lui verser la somme de 73 279,61 dollars.

Quant à l'appel en garantie d'EBC contre le MTQ, le tribunal le rejette en raison du défaut d'EBC de respecter les formalités prévues aux clauses du CCDG.

Conclusion

Sans diminuer la portée de l'obligation de renseignement du donneur d'ouvrage, cette décision réitère l'importance pour un entrepreneur de se renseigner lorsque les conditions d'exécution des travaux peuvent avoir une influence sur la méthode d'exécution choisie et sur le prix soumis.

En effet, il peut être hasardeux pour un entrepreneur de se fier uniquement à ses expériences antérieures et de présumer des conditions existantes. En l'absence d'un manquement du donneur d'ouvrage à son obligation de renseignement, la Cour rappelle que « c'est généralement à l'entrepreneur d'assumer les risques d'imprévision après avoir eu accès aux lieux et s'être déclaré satisfait des conditions d'exécution des travaux [3] ».

Cet article est paru dans l'édition du 14 septembre 2018 du Journal Constructo

Footnotes

1 9148-0657 Québec inc. c. EBC inc., 2018 QCCS 3522 (CanLII).

2 Ibid., par. 69.

3 Ibid., par. 37.

 

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