On October 13, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered an important decision1, putting an end to a jurisprudential and doctrinal debate on civil liability and prescription in the field of municipal liability. Facts In October 2010, Ms. Maria Altragracia Dorval ("Dorval") was murdered by her ex-spouse. The respondents, who were close relatives of Dorval, blamed the police officers of the City of Montreal ("City") for failing to follow up on Dorval's complaints in the weeks preceding her murder. In October 2013, the respondents instituted an action in damages against the City, as principal of the police officers. In a motion to dismiss, the City argued that the six-month time limit for prescription set out in article 586 of the Cities and Towns Act2 ("CTA") applied and that the respondents' action was prescribed. According to the City, the respondents were not direct victims of bodily injury and could nottherefore take advantage of the three-year prescription period set out in article 2930 of the Civil Code of Quebec3 ("C.C.Q."), which states, in particular, that an action based on bodily injury is prescribed by three years, notwithstanding any contrary provision. The respondents, in turn, argued that, even as indirect victims, they did benefit from prescription under article 2930 C.C.Q. on the basis that the purpose of the recourse is to compensate for damages arising from a bodily injury. Issue in dispute Was the respondents' recourse as indirect victims extinguished because they failed to comply with the prescription period of six months under the CTA, or did they also benefit from the three-year prescription period provided in article 2930 C.C.Q.? Case law and doctrine The disputed issue, while dealing with the prescription period, raised the question of how the injury was to be characterized. In this case, did the indirect victims suffer a bodily injury? The issue of characterizing the injury gave rise to two different lines of authority in the case law and doctrine. The first line of authority characterizes the injury, whether it be bodily, moral or material, on the basis of the consequences of the interference suffered by the victim. Thus, it focuses on determining the effects of the wrongful act, downstream, and on characterizing the injury as a function of the damages suffered. In this case, since the damages suffered by the indirect victims were not bodily in nature, they were not victims of bodily injury, but rather, of moral or material injury. The second line of authority characterizes the injury on the basis of the type of interference itself, and therefore upstream. The focus here is on characterizing the wrongful act itself, i.e., whether it pertains to the physical integrity of the person, his or her property, or psychological integrity. Next, the consequences of this interference are characterized as pecuniary or non-pecuniary damages. In this case, given the nature of the interference was a bodily injury, the injuries suffered by the victim's relatives would also be characterized as bodily in nature, causing them pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages, depending on the death's impact on those persons. Proceedings in the lower courts The Superior Court granted the City's motion and dismissed the respondents' action, holding that it was prescribed. Following the first line of authority, the court found that only immediate victims can take advantage of the three-year prescription period conferred by article 2930 C.C.Q., since only they have suffered a "bodily injury". The Court of Appeal, following the second line of authority, held instead that the respondents' action was not prescribed. It found that the injury must be characterized according to the type of interference that caused it, and not based on the nature of the damages claimed. Accordingly, since the respondents' action was founded on a bodily injury, it was therefore covered by the three-year prescription period under article 2930 C.C.Q. Supreme Court of Canada In a majority judgment written by Justice Wagner, the Court found that the basis of the action brought by the respondents was the reparation of Dorval's bodily injury resulting from the City's wrongful interference with her physical integrity. It therefore held that article 2930 C.C.Q. must be interpreted in favour of the indirect victims of a bodily injury. In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court first considered the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Tarquini case.4 In that matter, the plaintiff claimed damages from the City of Montreal as a result of the death of her spouse in a bicycle accident. As in this case, the City of Montreal pleaded the short prescription period under the CTA. The Court of Appeal found that the plaintiff's recourse was not prescribed on the basis that the bodily injury in question under article 2930 C.C.Q. did not solely contemplate the injury suffered by the immediate victim, but rather, any damages resulting from a bodily injury, including those of indirect victims. Next, the Supreme Court, acknowledging that the expression "bodily injury" must be interpreted as resulting from interference with a person's physical integrity, opted to resolve the issue by reference to the basis of the action as instituted, in accordance with the second line of jurisprudential and doctrinal authority. It submitted that the characterization of the victims' action, whether as direct or indirect, is determined on the basis of the type of interference alleged, whether bodily, material or moral. As for the consequences thereof, they correspond to the heads and the characterization of the damages claimed. The Supreme Court indicated that the purpose of article 2930 C.C.Q. is to protect personal integrity and ensure the full indemnification of victims. Consequently, eliminating the distinction between direct and indirect victims favours the achievement of this objective by conferring on all victims the benefit of an extended prescription period. Furthermore, the Supreme Court was of the view that to distinguish between immediate victims and collateral victims would have the effect of creating two different prescription periods for the same wrongful act. This inconsistency is avoided by favouring a broad interpretation of article 2930 C.C.Q. The Court also noted that, since the Tarquini decision, both the doctrine and case law had preferred this interpretation, favouring the stability of the law. The Court held that "any civil liability action instituted to claim reparation for the direct and immediate consequences of interference with a person’s physical integrity must be based on the obligation to make reparation for bodily injury caused to another"5 within the meaning of article 2930 C.C.Q., whether it be the recourse of the direct victim or indirect victim. Thus, indirect victims are also entitled to the prescription period of three years. Dissent We note that Justices Côté and Brown, preferring the first line of authority referred to above, issued a dissenting opinion. In their opinion, since the respondents were not direct victims of interference with physical integrity, they could not rely on article 2930 C.C.Q. Accordingly, they found that the respondents' action was based instead on the obligation to compensate for the moral and material injury they had suffered as a result of the death of their relative, and not on the bodily injury which was in fact suffered by Dorval alone. Only a person having suffered interference with his or her own physical integrity could benefit from the three-year prescription set out in article 2930 C.C.Q. In our view, the country's highest court has clearly resolved the debate on this issue. Montréal (Ville de) c. Dorval, 2017 SCC 48 Cities and Towns Act, C.Q.L.R., c. C-19 Civil Code of Quebec, C.Q.L.R., c. CCQ-1991 Montréal (Ville) c. Tarquini,  RJQ 1405 Montréal (Ville de) c. Dorval, 2017 SCC 48, para. 55
- Québec, 2017
Chantal Saint-Onge has played an integral role in the firm’s Litigation group. She works predominantly in the areas of insurance law and civil liability.
In her practice, Chantal has been called upon to represent clients from various economic sectors and industries, which has enabled her to continually develop new fields of expertise and specialization. She is well equipped to help them with conflict resolution, while balancing their needs in terms of legal services and business goals.
Chantal ensures the management of various files, for plaintiffs as well as defendants, including complex litigation cases.
- École du Barreau du Québec, 2016
- LL.B., Université de Montréal, 2016
- China University of Political Science and Law, International Summer School, 2014
Autonomous cars have really taken off in the last few years, particularly due to the interest of both consumers and the businesses who develop and improve them. In this context, on April 5 and 10, 2017, the City of Montréal and the Government of Québec respectively announced significant investments in the electrification and intelligent transportation sector to make the Province of Québec a pioneer of that industry. Investments from the City of Montréal and the Government of Québec The City of Montréal intends to invest $3.6M toward the creation of the Institute on Electrification and Intelligent Transportation, created as a part of the Transportation Electrification Strategy developed to fight climate change and promote innovation. The creation of the Institute on Electrification and Intelligent Transportation is one of the ten strategic orientations that the Transportation Electrification Strategy puts forward. The City of Montréal explains that [TRANSLATION] “the Institute will rely on the collaboration of partners, including universities and the Innovation District, and on the availability of land near downtown Montréal in order to create a world-class site to develop, experiment and promote innovation and new concepts in the field of electric and intelligent transportation ”.1 The mission of the Institute is, among other things, to create a testing corridor and an experimentation area in downtown Montréal for autonomous vehicles. In addition, an autonomous shuttle project is already under way, involving “Arma” minibuses developed by Navya, a partner of the Keolis Group. These vehicles are automated at level 5, meaning that they are entirely automated. The first road test is anticipated to take place in the context of the International Association of Public Transport’s (UITP) Global Public Transport Summit, which will be held in Montréal from May 15 to 17, 2017. For its part, the Government of Québec has undertaken to invest $4.4M [TRANSLATION] “to support the electric and intelligent vehicles industrial cluster”2. This industrial cluster will be set up in spring 2017 and its business plan will be established by an advisory committee created for such purpose. [TRANSLATION] “The cluster will help position Québec among the world leaders in the development of ground transportation and their transition to an all-electric and intelligent transportation” stated Dominique Anglade, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy. Issues related to driving autonomous vehicles in Québec Intelligent cars were introduced in the Québec market and have earned their place over the last few years. They are referred to as autonomous when they possess at least a “conditional” degree of automation, commonly referred to as level 3 on the scale of automation degrees.3 This level of automation allows for dynamic driving of the vehicle by its control system but requires the driver to remain available. Under the Québec Automobile Insurance Act4, the owner of an automobile is liable for the property damage caused by such automobile with some exceptions. This statute also provides for a no-fault liability regime allowing victims of a car accident to claim an indemnity for the bodily injuries they suffer. As to the Highway Safety Code5, it governs, among other things, the use of vehicles on public roads. To our knowledge, no legislative amendment has been proposed to this day to fill this legal void prior to autonomous vehicles appearing on the Québec roads. In this regard, it is appropriate to note that the Province of Ontario recently passed the Regulation 306/156, which outlines who may drive autonomous vehicles on Ontario roads and in which context. Comments Many questions remain unanswered as to the content of the projects and initiatives recently announced by the City of Montréal and the Government of Québec. This lack of information creates uncertainty as to the scope of specific regulations governing the use of autonomous vehicles in the Province of Québec which would possibly need to be passed. However, Ms. Elsie Lefebvre, Associate councilor for the City of Montréal, responsible for the Transportation Electrification Strategy, declared that [TRANSLATION] “there will be guidelines and the projects will be supervised to ensure that there is no danger on the road”, without giving details on the scope of such measures. In the wake of these announcements, many issues deserve to be discussed. What will be the degree of automation of the autonomous vehicles allowed to be driven in the Province of Québec? Who will drive these vehicles and who will insure them? Will special permits be required? Will these vehicles be allowed to be driven on public roads or exclusively on closed circuits? In the event of an accident, who will be held liable? What will be the legislative measures passed to adequately govern the use of these vehicles? Many questions remain and not many answers are provided for the time being. This is something to follow… Transportation Electrification Strategy 2016-2020, published by the City of Montréal. GOVERNMENT OF QUÉBEC, Information feed – “Québec annonce 4,4 millions de dollars pour soutenir la grappe industrielle des véhicules électriques et intelligents”, online. For more details, please consult the Need to Know newsletter, “Autonomous vehicles in Québec: unanswered questions”. Automobile Insurance Act, CQLR, c. A-25. Highway Safety Code, CQLR, c. C-24.2, art. 1. Pilot Project – Automated Vehicules, O Reg 306/15.
Lavery is pleased to announce that 67 of its lawyers have been recognized as leaders in their respective fields of expertise by The Best Lawyers in Canada 2023. The following lawyers also received the Lawyer of the Year award in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada: René Branchaud : Natural Resources Law Chantal Desjardins : Intellectual Property Law Bernard Larocque : Legal Malpractice Law Patrick A. Molinari : Health Care Law Consult the complete list of Lavery's lawyers and their fields of expertise: Josianne Beaudry : Mergers and Acquisitions Law / Mining Law Laurence Bich-Carrière : Class Action Litigation / Corporate and Commercial Litigation / Product Liability Law Dominic Boivert : Insurance Law (Ones To Watch) Luc R. Borduas : Corporate Law / Mergers and Acquisitions Law Daniel Bouchard : Environmental Law Laurence Bourgeois-Hatto : Workers' Compensation Law René Branchaud : Mining Law / Natural Resources Law / Securities Law Étienne Brassard : Equipment Finance Law / Mergers and Acquisitions Law / Real Estate Law Jules Brière : Aboriginal Law / Indigenous Practice / Administrative and Public Law / Health Care Law Myriam Brixi : Class Action Litigation Benoit Brouillette : Labour and Employment Law Richard Burgos : Mergers and Acquisitions Law / Corporate Law Marie-Claude Cantin : Insurance Law / Construction Law Brittany Carson : Labour and Employment Law Eugene Czolij : Corporate and Commercial Litigation France Camille De Mers : Mergers and Acquisitions Law (Ones To Watch) Chantal Desjardins : Intellectual Property Law Jean-Sébastien Desroches : Corporate Law / Mergers and Acquisitions Law Raymond Doray : Privacy and Data Security Law / Administrative and Public Law / Defamation and Media Law Christian Dumoulin : Mergers and Acquisitions Law Alain Y. Dussault : Intellectual Property Law Isabelle Duval : Family Law Chloé Fauchon : Municipal Law (Ones To Watch) Philippe Frère : Administrative and Public Law Simon Gagné : Labour and Employment Law Nicolas Gagnon : Construction Law Richard Gaudreault : Labour and Employment Law Danielle Gauthier : Labour and Employment Law Julie Gauvreau : Intellectual Property Law Michel Gélinas : Labour and Employment Law Caroline Harnois : Family Law / Family Law Mediation / Trusts and Estates Marie-Josée Hétu : Labour and Employment Law Alain Heyne : Banking and Finance Law Édith Jacques : Energy Law / Corporate Law Pierre Marc Johnson, Ad. E. : International Arbitration Marie-Hélène Jolicoeur : Labour and Employment Law Isabelle Jomphe : Intellectual Property Law Guillaume Laberge : Administrative and Public Law Jonathan Lacoste-Jobin : Insurance Law Awatif Lakhdar : Family Law Bernard Larocque : Professional Malpractice Law / Class Action Litigation / Insurance Law / Legal Malpractice Law Myriam Lavallée : Labour and Employment Law Guy Lavoie : Labour and Employment Law / Workers' Compensation Law Jean Legault : Banking and Finance Law / Insolvency and Financial Restructuring Law Carl Lessard : Workers' Compensation Law / Labour and Employment Law Josiane L'Heureux : Labour and Employment Law Despina Mandilaras : Construction Law / Corporate and Commercial Litigation (Ones To Watch) Hugh Mansfield : Intellectual Property Law Zeïneb Mellouli : Labour and Employment Law Patrick A. Molinari : Health Care Law André Paquette : Mergers and Acquisitions Law Luc Pariseau : Tax Law Ariane Pasquier : Labour and Employment Law Jacques Paul-Hus : Mergers and Acquisitions Law Hubert Pepin : Labour and Employment Law Martin Pichette : Insurance Law / Professional Malpractice Law Élisabeth Pinard : Family Law François Renaud : Banking and Finance Law / Structured Finance Law Judith Rochette : Insurance Law / Professional Malpractice Law Ian Rose FCIArb : Director and Officer Liability Practice / Insurance Law Chantal Saint-Onge : Corporate and Commercial Litigation (Ones To Watch) Éric Thibaudeau : Workers' Compensation Law André Vautour : Corporate Governance Practice / Corporate Law / Information Technology Law / Intellectual Property Law / Technology Law Bruno Verdon : Corporate and Commercial Litigation Sébastien Vézina : Mergers and Acquisitions Law Yanick Vlasak : Corporate and Commercial Litigation Jonathan Warin : Insolvency and Financial Restructuring Law These recognitions are further demonstration of the expertise and quality of legal services that characterize Lavery’s professionals.
On August 25, 2022, Best Lawyers in Canada released the results of a new initiative to recognize the rising stars in the Canadian legal profession. The results of the Ones to Watch survey that was held among the Canadian legal community identified four Lavery lawyers as rising stars in their respective fields of expertise: Dominic Boisvert : Insurance Law France Camille De Mers : Mergers and Acquisitions Law Chloé Fauchon : Municipal Law Despina Mandilaras : Construction Law / Corporate and Commercial Litigation Chantal Saint Onge : Corporate and Commercial Litigation These recognitions are further demonstration of the expertise and quality of legal services that characterize Lavery's professionals.
Lavery is pleased to announce that it has hired five of its articling students as associates. Daphnée Anctil and Charles Ceelen-Brasseur have joined the Business Law group with the Montréal office; Chantal Saint-Onge and Yaoqi Wang have joined the Litigation and Conflict Resolution group with the Montréal office; Andrée-Anne Perras-Fortin has joined the Business Law group with the Sherbrooke office and will also practise with the Lavery Legal Lab on Artificial Intelligence (L3AI); “We are very proud to welcome talent like Daphnée, Charles, Chantal, Yaoqi and Andrée-Anne into the Lavery family. They have distinguished themselves by their quality of work, dedication and ongoing pursuit of excellence,” commented Loïc Berdnikoff, Director of Professional Development.