Clément Lucas

Clement LucasBorn in France, Clément Lucas obtained his Masters in law degree from the University of Paris X – Nanterre in 2002. Admitted to the Bar of Paris in 2004, he practiced law for seven years in France.

Aspiring to new horizons, he moved to Québec in 2010 and decided to settle down in Montréal. Once he was admitted at the Québec Bar, he began his practice at de Grandpré Joli-Cœur in 2011. He is a member of the condo law group (divided and undivided).

Having had an important legal practice in real estate law in France, during his various professional experiences, Me Lucas has been the legal representative of several condominium corporations and condominium managers. He has also been a lecturer at the University of Paris II – Panthéon Assas.

Safety and moral prejudice

 

September 21, 2016 – on August 19, 2016, an interesting decision has been rendered by the Court of Québec (Honorable Pierre A. Gagnon, j.c.q.). It retains the liability of a contractor  holding of a license from the Régie du bâtiment du Québec(Quebec Building Board) and operating since 1998, and condemned  him to pay damages including damages to compensate the moral prejudice suffered by his  clients, based on Charter of human rights and freedoms. Here are the facts.

In 2010, the plaintiffs bought at their risk and perils (without legal warranty), two buildings one of which was a prefabricated house, cottage style, dating from 1974 that they decided to upgrade. They dealt with the aforementioned contractor.

After 18 weeks of work, plaintiffs learned from an engineer that their building was unsafe and had many defects. They put the contractor on notice to come observe such defects and the latter not following up, they dealt with a new contractor who completed the work.

Thereafter, the applicants decided to sue to be reimbursed of their out of pocket expenses. The Court held that the contractor had not fulfilled many of its obligations as he failed, namely:

  • To ensure that its work site was safe before undertaking the work on one or another portion of the building;
  • To verify its condition;
  • To advise his clients appropriately, according to his observations;
  • To ensure the soundness of the work he is carrying out to prevent its loss;
  • To carry out the work in conformity with to the state of the art;
  • And that he had performed work for which he was not competent and that exceeded the limitations of his contractor's license.

On this basis, the Court condemned the contractor to reimburse any surplus amounts paid, the material used by him and not recoverable at the resumption of the work by the second contractor, and to reimburse a portion of the work carried out by the latter. But in addition! The Court granted an award of $ 12,500 as compensation for the moral damage suffered by the clients of the defaulting contractor and gives reasons as follows:

"The fact that Mr. Gauthier has jeopardized Mr. Légaré safety is an important factor to take into account. The site had not been secured and the structural elements Mr. Gauthier has erected   insufficient to ensure the building or any of its components would not collapse. In doing so, Mr. Gauthier endangered the lives and safety of Mr. Légaré, in violation of Article 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the "Charter") and renders him liable to damages under Article 49 of the Charter. "

This decision is meaningful and should teach a lesson for both contractors and their clients. Indeed, the mere holding of a contractor's license is no certification that the work will be executed properly. In addition, the licenses granted by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec are organized into categories and subcategories that reflect the skills of the contractor holding it.

Thus, it may be useful, before signing a contract, to contact the Régie du bâtiment du Québec to know the specific contents of the contractor’s license who offers to perform work and to ensure everything is in order. It is also essential to ensure the contractor holds civil liability insurance in good standing   for the estimated duration of the project. A surveillance mandate given to a professional (architect, engineer or professional technologist) may also be a wise expense.

The decision can be consulted by clicking on this link: Légaré c. Gauthier, 2016 QCCQ 8459 (CanLII)

Clément Lucas, Lawyer
DE GRANDPRÉ JOLI-COEUR
2000, avenue McGill College
Bureau 1600
Montréal (Québec)  H3A 3H3
Tél. : (514) 287-9535
Fax : (514) 499-0469
Courriel : c.lucas@djclegal.com

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