Ville de Montréal v. Octane Stratégie inc.

(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)


Municipal law - Contracts, Formation, Restitution - Municipal law - Contracts for services - Formation and awarding of municipal contracts - Restitution of prestations - Public order - Whether Court of Appeal erred in law in holding that Octane Stratégie inc.’s action was not extracontractual in nature and was not prescribed even though no contract had been entered into between Ville de Montréal and Octane Stratégie inc. - Whether Court of Appeal erred in law in holding that alleged contract was governed by provisions of Civil Code of Québec on absolute nullity and restitution of prestations despite fact that certain imperative rules of public order specific to municipal law are incompatible with application of those provisions - Whether, if provisions of Civil Code of Québec did apply in this case, Court of Appeal erred in declining to exercise its power under para. 2 of art. 1699 C.C.Q. to refuse Octane Stratégie inc.’s claim for restitution - Civil Code of Québec, arts. 1422, 1699 and 1700 - Cities and Towns Act, CQLR, c. C 19, ss. 573 and 573.1.


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To prepare for the launch of its transportation plan, Ville de Montréal (City) retained Octane Stratégie inc. (Octane), a public relations and communications firm, not long before the planned launch date of May 17, 2007. Representatives of Octane attended a meeting at city hall on April 27, 2007 with officials and political representatives from the City. At that meeting, Richard Thériault, the director of communications and administration in the office of the mayor and the executive committee, is alleged to have awarded four mandates to Octane, two of which involved preparing the concept for the launch and organizing the event. To fulfill its mandate to organize the event, Octane hired Productions Gilles Blais. Between April 30 and May 17, Octane sent the City various scenarios and budget estimates relating to the organization of the event. The final estimate dated May 15, 2007 forecast fees, costs and disbursements totalling $123,470. Following the event, Octane sent three invoices on June 4, 2007 that were paid in March and April 2008. A final invoice for $82,898.63 ($72,500 plus taxes), which corresponded to the services of Productions Gilles Blais, was sent to the City on October 27, 2009. On May 13, 2010, Octane, having not yet been paid, renewed its request for payment by the City. On May 14, it filed a motion to institute proceedings in order to preserve its rights against the City. On July 9, 2010, Octane, still not having been paid, finally served its motion to institute proceedings on the City. On October 6, 2011, Octane sent Mr. Thériault a formal notice to pay it the amount of $82,898.63. Octane amended its motion to institute proceedings on November 22, 2011 to add Mr. Thériault as a defendant. The Superior Court granted Octane’s motion to institute proceedings and ordered the City to pay $82,898.63 plus interest and the additional indemnity. The alternative motion to institute proceedings against Mr. Thériault was dismissed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Octane’s appeal against Mr. Thériault was declared to be moot. The reasons for judgment were written by Mainville J.A. Hogue J.A. wrote reasons concurring in the result.