Canada: Contrats préliminaires d'achat d'immeubles à bâtir : qualification juridique et conditions pour leur exécution en nature

Last Updated: November 7 2018
Article by Alexia Magneron

Journal Constructo – Édition du 25 septembre 2018

Dans une décision rendue le 6 septembre 2018 [1], la Cour d'appel du Québec devait déterminer si des particuliers pouvaient exiger l'exécution en nature de contrats préliminaires intervenus avec un entrepreneur qui s'était engagé à leur vendre deux immeubles à construire situés sur des lots attenants à leur propriété.

La Cour d'appel qualifie d'abord lesdits contrats de promesses bilatérales d'achat et de vente pour ensuite rejeter la possibilité d'en exiger l'exécution en nature. Cette conclusion ne vaut toutefois que pour les faits de l'espèce, lesdits contrats manquant ici des précisions nécessaires afin de permettre une telle exécution.

Faits

En 2011, M. Duc Trung Ly et Mme Marianne Hua Kin Lo (« Ly/Lo ») contractent avec Construction Sainte Gabrielle inc. (« Ste Gabrielle ») pour la construction d'un immeuble résidentiel situé à Brossard (« Immeuble 1 ») dans le cadre d'un projet immobilier nommé Brossard sur le golf.

En mars 2012, Ly/Lo signent des contrats préliminaires avec Ste Gabrielle pour la construction de deux autres immeubles résidentiels (« Immeubles 2 et 3 ») sur des lots contigus aux fins de loger des membres de leur famille dans la même rue. En 2013, Ly/Lo apprennent toutefois que Ste Gabrielle refuse de donner suite aux promesses contenues dans les contrats préliminaires et que cette dernière a déjà contracté avec des tierces personnes une promesse de construction sur les mêmes lots.

Ly/Lo réclament alors l'exécution en nature des contrats préliminaires par voie judiciaire et une ordonnance de sauvegarde est délivrée en juillet 2013 pour interrompre les travaux sur les lots visés. À titre subsidiaire, Ly/Lo réclament la somme de 500 000 dollars pour les dommages subis, incluant les frais extrajudiciaires engagés.

Ste Gabrielle conteste la demande d'exécution en nature et réclame par demande reconventionnelle le paiement d'extras impayés concernant l'Immeuble 1 ainsi que les divers frais engagés sur les Immeubles 2 et 3.

En première instance, la juge rejette la demande principale visant l'exécution forcée des obligations de Ste Gabrielle, mais accorde à Ly/Lo des dommages non pécuniaires d'un montant de 50 000 $ en raison de la perte de proximité des résidences pour les membres de leur famille. De plus, elle accueille partiellement la demande reconventionnelle de Ste Gabrielle en condamnant Ly/Lo à lui verser la somme de 9 740 dollars pour les travaux additionnels réalisés sur leur résidence.

Décision

La Cour d'appel examine d'abord la qualification des contrats intervenus entre les parties. Alors que la juge de première instance retenait la qualification de contrats préliminaires mixtes d'entreprise et de vente au sens des articles 1785 C.c.Q et suivants, la Cour d'appel est d'avis qu'il s'agit de promesses bilatérales de vente et d'achat de deux immeubles dans lesquelles Ly/Lo s'engagent à acheter les Immeubles 2 et 3 à bâtir, tandis que Ste Gabrielle s'engage à leur vendre les Immeubles 2 et 3. La Cour d'appel considère alors que par la conclusion de ces contrats préliminaires, peu importe leur libellé, il est implicitement convenu que Ste Gabrielle s'engage à construire lesdites résidences, dans la mesure où les obligations des promettant-acheteurs et du vendeur ainsi que les garanties applicables sont convenablement précisées.

Cela étant, la Cour d'appel confirme la décision de première instance à l'effet que Ly/Lo ne peuvent forcer Ste Gabrielle à construire les Immeubles 1 et 2 puisque le degré de précisions des promesses de vente et d'achat est insuffisant. Entre autres, les plans de construction n'étaient pas définitifs, il n'existait pas d'échéancier de chantier, ni de date de livraison ou de date de signature de l'acte de vente devant le notaire et le certificat de localisation n'était pas approuvé par le promoteur du projet et la Ville. De plus, aucun permis de construction n'avait été obtenu jusqu'à ce moment. Les contrats préliminaires ainsi conclus entre Ly/ Lo et Ste Gabrielle ont donc été jugés trop imprécis pour que les obligations contractées en vertu de ces contrats puissent être sujettes à une exécution en nature.

Sur la question des dommages pécuniaires, alors que la décision de première instance rejetait toute condamnation à ce titre, la Cour d'appel condamne Ste Gabrielle à payer la somme de 50 000 dollars à Ly/Lo à titre de perte monétaire pour chaque résidence visée par les contrats préliminaires, donc 100 000 dollars au total.

De plus, la Cour d'appel rappelle que l'attribution de dommages non pécuniaires n'a pas pour vocation de punir un comportement fautif, mais de compenser les dommages subis. Elle réduit ainsi ce chef de dommages à 10 000 dollars, au lieu de la somme de 50 000 dollars attribués en première instance pour la perte de la proximité des résidences destinées aux membres des familles de Ly/Lo.

Enfin, la Cour d'appel confirme le versement de la somme de 9 740 dollars par Ly/Lo à Ste Gabrielle au titre de la demande reconventionnelle.

Conclusion

La Cour d'appel examine d'abord la qualification des contrats intervenus entre les parties. Alors que la juge de première instance retenait la qualification de contrats préliminaires mixtes d'entreprise et de vente au sens des articles 1785 C.c.Q et suivants, la Cour d'appel est d'avis qu'il s'agit de promesses bilatérales de vente et d'achat de deux immeubles dans lesquelles Ly/Lo s'engagent à acheter les Immeubles 2 et 3 à bâtir, tandis que Ste Gabrielle s'engage à leur vendre les Immeubles 2 et 3. La Cour d'appel considère alors que par la conclusion de ces contrats préliminaires, peu importe leur libellé, il est implicitement convenu que Ste Gabrielle s'engage à construire lesdites résidences, dans la mesure où les obligations des promettant-acheteurs et du vendeur ainsi que les garanties applicables sont convenablement précisées.

1 Ly c. Construction Sainte Gabrielle inc. 2018 QCCA 1438

Cet article est paru dans l'édition du 25 septembre 2018 du journal Constructo.

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