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  • Quarterly legal newsletter intended for accounting, management, and finance professionals, Number 24

    CONTENTSNominees in the context of litigationUse of a nominee by limited partnerships and trusts for holding immovablesVoluntary registration for GST and QST purposes by a nomineeImmovables held by a nominee: Issues with respect to consumption taxesNOMINEES IN THE CONTEXT OF LITIGATIONLéa Maalouf In commercial matters, it frequently happens that two persons agree to hide their true intent from third parties and express such intent in a secret contract (or counter letter), while publicizing another contract, known as a fictional or apparent contract. This process is called simulation. This practice is entirely legal unless it is used to break the law or allow a party to avoid liability, for instance, by removing an item of property from his patrimony in order to avoid the execution of a judgment. Simulation is governed by articles 1451 and 1452 of the Civil Code of Québec. A counter letter is subject to no condition as to form: it is valid whether it is in the verbal or written form. A nominee agreement is one of the forms under which simulation may be carried out: when a person uses a third party to enter into a contract with another person, the third party is called a nominee. With as many players at the table, it is interesting to review the issues related to the liability of the parties and the precedence of the contracts in the event a dispute occurs. If a dispute occurs between the parties to the nominee agreement, the law is clear: the counter letter, whether verbal or written, prevails over the apparent contract. Either party cannot refuse to give effect to the nominee agreement. It is interesting to note that proof of the existence of a counter letter may be made by any mean, including testimony. This is rather exceptional, considering that the rules of evidence do not allow the parties to a written contract to use testimony to contradict or vary its terms. The reasoning of the courts is that the nominee agreement constitutes a contract by itself, which is separate from the apparent contract. This being so, testimony is not used to contradict the apparent contract but rather to establish the existence of a new contract. However, if a third party institutes proceedings while being in good faith – meaning that the third party is unaware of the existence of the secret instrument, the Civil Code of Québec provides that the third party may, according to his interest, avail himself of the apparent contract or the counter letter. In principle, third parties do not need to prove fraudulent intent of the parties to the counter letter to rely on the secret instrument. However, according to some judgments, third parties should at least prove that they suffered some kind of harm as a result of the simulation. Once again, proof of the simulation may be made by any mean. Conversely, parties to a counter letter may decide to publish it to end the simulation: in that case, it will be more difficult for third parties to rely on the apparent contract. However, in a recent case1, the Superior Court found liable both the nominees and true owners of an immovable, concluding that the parties had deliberately created confusion tantamount to abuse of right and that the theory of alter ego had also to be applied. In closing, although it may look surprising at the outset, a fictive instrument, such as a nominee agreement, is entirely legal unless it is used for improper purposes. However, parties to that fictive instrument must remember that a third party in good faith may set such instrument aside and rely on the apparent contract as being the true agreement between the parties, even if this does not constitute the initial intent of the contracting parties. _________________________________________1 9087-7135 Québec inc. c. Centre de santé et de services sociaux Lucille-Teasdale, 2013 QCCS 3856. USE OF A NOMINEE BY LIMITED PARTNERSHIPS AND TRUSTS FOR HOLDING IMMOVABLESDominique Bélisle Several legal arguments justify the practice that has developed in Quebec and in the common law provinces of registering the ownership title to immovables or real estate, acquired by a limited partnership or a real estate investment trust (“REIT”), in the name of a nominee. One of these arguments is based on the fact that partnerships and trusts created under the Civil Code of Québec (“Civil Code”) do not benefit from legal personality and therefore are not separate «persons» distinct from their members, partners or beneficiaries. Indeed, historically, under the civil law, the patrimony was always considered to be attached to a natural or legal person. Over time, the concept developed which attributed a distinct patrimony to the partnership from the patrimonies of the partners, and which attributed a patrimony by appropriation to the trust, autonomous and distinct from the patrimonies of the settlor, trustee or beneficiary thereof. In the case of trusts constituted under the Civil Code, including REITs, nominees have not been consistently used in practice and are less common. Indeed, article 1278 of the Civil Code states that the titles relating to the property of the trust are drawn up in the trustees’ names. On this basis, it is common to see the title to property held by a REIT registered in the land registry under the names of all the trustees acting in their capacity as trustees of the trust. Other legal advisers still register the title to the property directly in the name of the REIT, despite article 1278. For the time being, nothing indicates that this practice affects the validity of the property title. In the above cases, however, a nominee is not used on the basis of the lack of legal personality of the trust because the Civil Code expressly recognizes that the parties involved have no real rights in the distinct patrimony. This recognition helps resolve the ambiguity caused by this lack of personality. The advantage of a nominee for a REIT therefore lies elsewhere, such as, for example, in the flexibility offered for transfers of title between parties related to the trust, and in relation to the transfer duties that are triggered when these transfers are registered in the land register. Indeed, the exemptions provided for in section 19 of the Act respecting duties on transfers of immovables (Quebec) with respect to a corporate restructuring do not apply in the cases of a trust or partnership. Some exemptions contained in section 20 of that statute do apply to trusts, but in very specific cases. In the case of a partnership, however, the use of a nominee is more common and warranted not only in connection with the Act respecting duties on transfers of immovables, but also due to the uncertainty caused in relation to the holding of title to property because of the partnership’s lack of legal personality. Indeed, in contrast to the situation pertaining to trusts, the Civil Code does not directly provide for the autonomous nature of the patrimony for partnerships, or that the partners hold no real right in the partnership’s property. Furthermore, in the case of Ville de Québec c. Compagnie d’immeubles Allard ltée 1, the Court of Appeal stated that since the limited partnership did not have a distinct legal personality from its members, it did not hold the partnership’s assets, and therefore found that the partners held an undivided real right in the property. In that case, the Court determined that the transfer by a partner of his interest in the partnership constituted a transfer of his undivided share, thereby triggering transfer duties (the parties having had the bad idea of registering the transfer…). This decision has created some uncertainty surrounding the identity of the property owner. Is the property title really held in undivided co-ownership by each of the partners? And what about limited partnerships? The argument relied on by the Court of Appeal to justify its conclusions applies equally to limited partnerships. In practice, however, the partners in a limited partnership would certainly not intend to trigger a transfer in undivided co-ownership of the property each time a unit is transferred. This uncertainty has led to the commercial practice of registering the property title in the land register in the name of the general partner, or a nominee corporation. _________________________________________1 [1996] RJQ 1566 (C.A.).  VOLUNTARY REGISTRATION FOR GST AND QST PURPOSES BY A NOMINEEDiana Darilus In an immovable property context, a person can act as a nominee for another person for the purpose of holding title to the property and handling the property management. This type of structure implies the existence of a mandatary-mandator relationship that is not disclosed to third parties. In the context of this type of relationship, the mandator is the person considered to be carrying on commercial activities involving the property, and is therefore generally required to register for GST and QST purposes. However, a nominee corporation holding title to immovable property on behalf of the true owner may wish to register voluntarily for several reasons, such as the following: use of the nominee’s GST and QST registration numbers in the legal and administrative documentation, such as invoices or commercial leases, in order to preserve the confidentiality of the true owner of the property; joint election by the mandator and mandatary provided for in subsection 177(1.1) of the Excise Tax Act (“ETA”) and section 41.0.1 of An Act respecting the Québec sales tax (“AQST”), which allows the mandatary to remit the GST and QST collected to the tax authorities on the mandator’s behalf; and joint venture election provided for in sections 273 ETA and 346 AQST, which enables the co-venturers to designate an “operator” responsible for remitting the GST and QST collected to the tax authorities and claiming the input tax credits and input tax refunds (ITCs/ITRs) on behalf of the co-venturers. A nominee corporation can only register voluntarily for GST and QST purposes if it carries on a commercial activity in Quebec. The definition of “commercial activity” is very broad and includes the carrying on of a business by a corporation without a reasonable expectation of profit, except to the extent to which the business involves the making of exempt supplies. As for the definition of the term “business”, this includes any undertaking of any kind whatever, whether or not engaged in for profit. In light of these definitions, it seems that a nominee corporation whose activities are limited to holding title to property on behalf of the true owner without receiving compensation for doing so, could be considered to be carrying on a commercial activity. However, Revenu Québec has raised doubts in the past few years about the voluntary registration of certain nominee corporations in the form of “shell corporations” on the basis that they did not carry on any commercial activities, and retroactively canceled their registration numbers. To avoid such a dispute with the tax authorities, one should in our view be cautious when setting up a nominee corporation as part of a structure for holding immovable property in Quebec. We recommend that the following minimum measures be taken to reduce the risk of contestation by Revenu Québec: monthly fees (plus applicable taxes) should be paid to the nominee corporation pursuant to terms of a written nominee agreement; and the nominee corporation should open a bank account to receive its compensation. We believe that if such measures are taken, it is more reasonable to consider that the nominee corporation is in fact carrying on a commercial activity, i.e., the taxable supply of services as a mandatary on behalf of a mandator or participants in a joint venture. IMMOVABLES HELD BY A NOMINEE: ISSUES WITH RESPECT TO CONSUMPTION TAXESJean-Philippe Latreille In the last few years, tax authorities have intensified their auditing efforts aimed at corporations holding immovables as nominees. In this context, the validity of some elections pertaining to joint ventures in respect of GST and QST has been questioned. These elections allow the participants in a joint venture to designate one of them as “operator”, whose role is to remit taxes and claim input tax credits and input tax refunds in the name of the other participants. Now, in some circumstances, tax authorities adopt a position whereby a corporation which is solely used as a nominee is not a participant in the joint venture and thus, cannot validly be appointed as “operator”. However, tax authorities recently announced that they gave instruction to their auditors not to assess when such a situation occurs. This administrative tolerance is conditional to all returns having been filed and all amounts due having been paid. This measure is temporary since it only applies to reporting periods ending prior to January 1, 2015. Furthermore, tax authorities expect all participants in a joint venture relying on the tolerance to make valid elections in the future. Owners of immovables relying on a nominee should therefore now review their holding structure in the light of the positions published by tax authorities.

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  • Quarterly legal newsletter intended for accounting, management, and finance professionals, Number 23

    CONTENTS The 2014 Federal Budget Plan sounds the death knell for two family tax planning measures much appreciated by entrepreneurs and some professionals The Expert and the Court You signed a contract for services... with an employee? How to properly identify the relationship between the parties and what are the consequences of a wrong categorization ? Application of GAAR to a cross-border debt “clean-up” transaction: The Pièces Automobiles Lecavalier Inc. CaseTHE 2014 FEDERAL BUDGET PLAN SOUNDS THE DEATH KNELL FOR TWO FAMILY TAX PLANNING MEASURES MUCH APPRECIATED BY ENTREPRENEURS AND SOME PROFESSIONALSMartin BédardINCOME SPLITTING THROUGH A TRUST OR PARTNERSHIPFirst, the 2014 Federal Budget Plan (the “Budget”) ends the possibilities for splitting the income of trusts and partnerships in respect of business and rental income attributed to a minor child.Such income will henceforth be considered as being part of the split income of the trust or partnership and taxed at the marginal rate.As described in the Budget, the conditions of application of this new measure are as follows: the income is derived from a source that is a business or a rental property; and a person related to the minor is actively engaged on a regular basis in the activities of the trust or partnership to earn income from any business or rental property, or has, in the case of a partnership, an interest in the partnership (whether held directly or through another partnership) The structures affected by these new measures could be used by professionals conducting their activities through a partnership of which their minor children or a trust established for their benefit were members. Such structures allowed for directly or indirectly allocating a portion of the income of the partnership to the minor child and thus benefit from progressive tax rates.As of 2014, the rules governing split income will apply to these structures, which will no longer offer a tax benefit. However, it is still possible to split such income with related persons who have reached the age of majority.POST-MORTEM INCOME SPLITTING: THE TESTAMENTARY TRUSTThe Budget also puts an end to the progressive tax rates applicable to a testamentary trust, a measure which was announced in the 2013 Federal Budget Plan.Up to now, testamentary trusts were allowing their beneficiaries to benefit from several progressive tax rates. Among the tax planning possibilities associated with the availability of such progressive tax rates were the use of numerous testamentary trusts, the postponement of the completion of the administration of an estate for tax purposes or the avoidance of the Old Age Security Recovery Tax.Testamentary trusts will henceforth be uniformly taxed at their marginal tax rates. However, progressive tax rates will remain applicable in the following two cases: (i) for the thirty-six (36) first months of an estate which is a testamentary trust and (ii) in the case of a trust whose beneficiaries are eligible for the federal disability tax credit.The Budget also provides that the tax year-end of testamentary trusts must henceforth be December 31 of each year starting December 31, 2015.These measures will apply to taxation years 2016 and following.THE EXPERT AND THE COURTDominique VallièresIn the context of litigation, lawyers frequently require the testimony of experts, particularly accountants. Well presented, this evidence may have a decisive influence on the outcome of a trial. In the contrary situation, a debate on the quality of the expert or the weight to be given to his or her testimony may occur. This is why we review in this bulletin the role, qualification and credibility of the expert.THE ROLE OF THE EXPERTThe role of the expert is to express an opinion based on his or her scientific, economic or other knowledge, which exceeds that of the judge and without which it is impossible to draw from the facts the correct conclusions. In other words, when the judge is able by himself to understand the facts and draw the correct inferences, an expert is neither necessary nor admissible. For example, the calculation of the gross profits from a contract, which only constitute a mathematical operation, will not require a particular expertise and an accountant called upon to testify on that matter will be at best considered as an ordinary witness. The role of the expert is to enlighten the Court in as objective or impartial a manner as possible.THE QUALIFICATION OF THE EXPERTTo express his or her opinion, the expert must first be recognized as such by the Court. The expert will therefore be first examined respecting his or her training and experience. If the expert qualification is contested, and the Court considers that the expert is insufficiently qualified, it may refuse to hear him or her. The qualifications of the expert must be related to the matters about which he or she testifies.The training of the witness and his or her practical experience, will be considered. Although either may be enough, a really convincing expert will generally have solid training and experience, failing which, even if the Court accepts to hear him or her, less weight may be given to his or her testimony.THE WEIGHT GIVEN TO HIS OR HER OPINIONAs is the case with any other witness, the Court will have to assess the credibility of the expert, particularly in the presence of contradictory opinions. The Court may review the seriousness of the steps taken by the experts. It will give more weight to the opinion of a witness who directly noted the facts and reviewed the data than to the opinion of another witness who only relied on what he or she has been told. A mostly theoretical opinion or an opinion which only describes principles will also be given less weight. It is important for the witness to explain why the particular facts of the case allow for drawing a particular conclusion. Furthermore, in the presence of diverging schools of thought on a particular item, the Court appreciates that the expert considers them and explains why one should be favoured over the other in the situation at hand. Dogmatism, the absence of justification and the out of hand dismissal of a recognized approach will also generally be negatively perceived.This is consistent with the very basis of the role of the expert, which is to impartially and objectively enlighten the Court. The Court will want to ensure that the expert keeps the required distance and independence to issue a credible opinion. If the Court perceives that the expert is taking sides or “pleads the case” of the party who retained his or her services, his or her credibility will suffer. Thus, even though it is admissible, the testimony of the expert and his or her conduct will be more closely scrutinized if it is demonstrated, for instance, that he or she is employed by a party or expressed in the past an opinion on similar issues.Although this situation is rarer, the Court could even refuse to hear the witness if it is convinced that he or she will be unable to be impartial. Such may be the case when the expert personally advocates in favour of the position defended by a party or the fact that he or she was personally involved in similar litigation. The animosity or the closeness which may exist between the expert and a party may also negatively affect the expert. In this respect, it is important for the expert to be transparent to the party who retains his or her services.CONCLUSIONThe really useful expert is the one whose conduct may be summarized by these three words: competence, thoroughness and objectivity.YOU SIGNED A CONTRACT FOR SERVICES… WITH AN EMPLOYEE? HOW TO PROPERLY IDENTIFY THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PARTIES AND WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A WRONG CATEGORIZATION?Valérie Korozs and Martin BédardThe Court of Appeal of Québec recently issued an interesting decision on this subject in the Bermex international inc. v. L’Agence du revenu du Québec case1 (“Bermex”).It must be noted that regardless of the fact that the parties have described their agreement as a contract for services or an agreement with a self-employed person, a court is not in any way bound by such a description.The courts have developed certain criteria for analyzing the legal status of a person in order to determine whether that person is an employee or a self-employed person. Among these criteria, the relationship of subordination, that is, whether a person works under the direction or control of another person, has always been decisive.What about when a person is not, strictly speaking, “under the direction or control of another person”,2 due to the fact that he or she runs the business? This is the question the Court of Appeal had to answer in the Bermex case.The Court adopted a broad interpretation of the concept of the subordination relationship by considering the degree of integration of the worker into the company, a criterion derived from the common law.THE FACTSFollowing a tax audit of four companies, the Agence du revenu du Québec (the “Agency”) concluded that Mr. Darveau, their main director and officer, did not have the status of a self-employed person but rather that of an employee. Accordingly, the Agency was of the view that the management fees paid to Mr. Darveau had to be considered employment income and therefore, had to be included in the companies’ payroll.The four companies targeted challenged the Agency’s assessments before the Court of Québec but to no avail.THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALJust like the trial judge , the Court of Appeal concluded that the intent of the parties to enter into a service contract was not clear from the evidence in the case.The fact that Mr. Darveau was a shareholder of the appellant corporations allowed him some freedom of action, giving the impression that he acted as a self-employed person. It is not surprising that as an officer, Mr. Darveau managed his own schedule, work and compensation nor is it surprising that he was not under the direct supervision of another authority. This freedom resulted from his status as an officer and not from the contract for services upon which he was relying.The Court of Appeal placed a particular emphasis on the fact that it was the appellant companies who assumed all risk of loss and who profited from the activities: [translation] “Yet, a company does not assume the errors of an external consultant”.3 Mr. Darveau did not bring any [translation] “expertise requiring the intervention of an external person in an area that he knows better than anyone, he simply deals with the day-to-day problems of his companies, as he so acknowledges.”4CONCLUSIONAccording to the line of case law followed by the Court of Appeal in the Bermex case, one shall take criteria such as control, ownership of tools, expectation of profits and risks of loss, as well as integration into the company into consideration for the purpose of determining a person’s status as a self-employed individual or an employee.An erroneous categorization of the nature of the contract may have significant financial impacts on the company and the individual in question, both from a tax and labour law perspective. It is therefore essential to undertake a careful analysis of the true status of the person involved before the beginning of the contractual relationship._________________________________________1 2013 QCCA 1379.2 Article 2085 of the Civil Code of Québec.3 Para 59 of the Court of Appeal’s judgment.4 Para 60 of the Court of Appeal’s judgment.APPLICATION OF GAAR TO A CROSS-BORDER DEBT “CLEAN-UP” TRANSACTION: THE PIÈCES AUTOMOBILES LECAVALIER INC. CASE LAVERY, AN OVERVIEWÉric GélinasThe Tax Court of Canada recently rendered a decision dealing with the general antiavoidance rule (“GAAR”) in the context of the elimination of a cross-border debt between Greenleaf Canada Acquisitions Inc. (“Greenleaf”) and Ford US, its American parent company, prior to the sale of Greenleaf’s shares, who owed the debt, to a third party. In the case under review, Ford US subscribed for additional Greenleaf shares and Greenleaf used the proceeds from the subscription to repay its debt to Ford US.The purpose of the transactions in question was to avoid the application of section 80 of the Income Tax Act (“ITA”) upon the forgiveness of a portion of the debt. Without the debt repayment, the rules pertaining to debt parking contained in paragraphs 80.01(6) to (8) ITA would have resulted in the application of section 80 ITA in such a way as to reduce Greenleaf’s tax attributes and even add to its income the portion of the “forgiven amount” not being sheltered.The Minister of National Revenue (“Minister”) was of the view that GAAR applied to the “clean-up” transaction in such a way that Greenleaf had to realize a capital gain of $15 million on the forgiveness of the debt. Greenleaf’s tax attributes were accordingly reduced and certain adjustments to its taxable income were made pursuant to section 80 ITA.ANALYSIS OF THE COURTFrom the outset, the taxpayer acknowledged that the transactions provided it with a tax benefit, namely, the preservation of Greenleaf’s tax attributes through the avoidance of the provisions of section 80 ITA.As to whether these transactions constituted “avoidance transactions”, the taxpayer attempted, particularly through the testimony of the accounting expert, to prove that they had been carried out only for US tax and accounting purposes, and that they therefore had bona fide non-tax purposes and did not constitute avoidance transactions. The Court did not rely on this testimony because it constituted hearsay. Furthermore, the Court applied the negative inference doctrine since no representative of Ford US had testified and that the testimonies provided were deemed not to be credible.With respect to the issue of abuse, the Court agreed with the Minister’s argument to the effect that the “clean-up” transactions were abusive since they circumvented the purpose and spirit of section 80 ITA: if the debt had not been repaid using the proceeds from the subscription, the rules governing debt parking would have applied and Greenleaf’s tax attributes would have been reduced pursuant to section 80 ITA.CONCLUSIONThis decision is particularly important in a context of debt reorganization within a corporate group. The type of transactions discussed in the decision under review is frequently used. Practitioners will have to pay particular attention to the tax impact of such a transaction. When it is possible to do so, it will obviously be preferable to simply convert a debt into shares of the debtor corporation to the extent that paragraph 80(2)(g) ITA is applicable so that no forgiven amount will result from the conversion.

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  • Norwich orders recognized by the Court of Appeal of Québec - Financial institutions subject to duty to lend assistance in potential fraud files

    On June 12, 2013, the Quebec Court of Appeal rendered a decision in the case of Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C. et als v. Picard et als1 (“Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C.”) confirming that the courts can issue Norwich-type orders in Quebec. This decision is consistent with the judgment rendered by the Quebec Court of Appeal, in 2002, in Raymond Chabot SST inc. v. Groupe AST (1993) inc.,2 which recognized that Anton Piller-type orders could be validly issued in Quebec.In the Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C. decision, the Court of Appeal issued Norwich orders authorizing several financial institutions to disclose confidential banking information, without the knowledge of the clients concerned, to enable the applicant to find and trace funds alleged to have been fraudulently misappropriated. Both the order and the entire court file remain sealed until December 6, 2013 to ensure the confidentiality of the enforcement of the order.In this decision, the Court of Appeal of Québec adopted the criteria for the issuance of such orders developed in 2000 by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta,3 which were confirmed by the Court of Appeal of Alberta,4 and cited with approval by the Court of Appeal for Ontario.5THERE ARE THREE KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:  The criteria developed in the common law jurisdictions to justify the issuance of a Norwich order are applicable in Quebec; The conclusions sought in an application for a Norwich order must be carefully drafted and not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the legitimate objective sought by the application; Where the goal of the application for a Norwich order is to obtain information and documents from a third party, the conclusions sought should request the appointment of a firm of outside experts to receive and assess the information and documents obtained as a result of the execution of the order, and require the outside firm to prepare and submit a report to the court within a specified time.OVERVIEW OF THE ORIGIN OF NORWICH ORDERSThe Norwich order is an order issued by a court authorizing a person who is not a party to an existing or potential litigation to disclose the identity of an unknown party, or to communicate information or documents, in order to enable the applicant to verify the existence of a cause of action or to trace and secure evidence or assets.Similarly to the Anton Piller order (requiring the defendant to permit the plaintiff to conduct a search of its premises and secure evidence in a private dispute) and the Mareva injunction (prohibiting the disposition of assets during a legal proceeding), the Norwich order was originally developed in English law for the purpose of promoting the effective conduct of a proceeding that was already instituted or envisaged.The name comes from a decision rendered by the House of Lords in 1974 in the case of Norwich Pharmacal Co. v. Commissioners of Customs and Excise.6 In that case, the House of Lords recognized Norwich’s right to obtain the disclosure of the identity of a person - who had imported a chemical compound that was patented by Norwich, without its knowledge - from a third party, i.e. the Commissioners of Customs and Excise. The purpose of the disclosure of the importer’s identity by the Customs and Excise Commissioners was to allow Norwich to institute legal proceedings against the offending importer.A Norwich order was first issued in Canada, in 1998, by the Federal Court of Appeal in the case of Glaxo Wellcome PLC v. M.N.R.7 The facts in that case were similar to those in the Norwich case. The Federal Court of Appeal ordered the Minister of National Revenue to disclose the identity of importers who had allegedly infringed Glaxo’s patents.In 2000, in the case of Alberta (Treasury Branches) v. Leahy,8 after conducting an extensive review of the English and Canadian decisions dealing with Norwich orders, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta summarized the situations which can justify the issuance of such an order, and the five criteria which the court must consider (hereinafter the “Norwich Test”), as follows:«[106] The foregoing review demonstrates that:a. Norwich-type relief has been granted in varied situations:(i) Where the information sought is necessary to identify wrongdoers;(ii) To find and preserve evidence that may substantiate or support an action against either known or unknown wrongdoers, or even determine whether an action exists; and(iii) To trace and preserve assets.b. The court will consider the following factors on an application for Norwich relief:(i) Whether the applicant has provided evidence sufficient to raise a valid, bona fide or reasonable claim;(ii) Whether the applicant has established a relationship with the third party from whom the information is sought such that it establishes that the third party is somehow involved in the acts complained of;(iii) Whether the third party is the only practicable source of the information available;(iv) Whether the third party can be indemnified for costs to which the third party may be exposed because of the disclosure, some refer to associated expenses of complying with the orders, while others speak of damages; and(v) Whether the interests of justice favour the obtaining of the disclosure. »These were the same criteria considered by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 2009 in the case of GEA Group AG. v. Flex-N-Gate Corporation,9 and which have now also been adopted by the Court of Appeal of Québec.10NORWICH ORDERS IN QUEBECThe Civil Code of Québec contains no provisions dealing either with applications for Norwich-type orders, Anton Piller orders or Mareva injunctions. Instead, one must turn to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure (particularly articles 20 and 46), which grant general powers to the court, as the basis for incorporating these recourses into our substantive law.11 The Norwich order is an extraordinary recourse that is heard ex parte (without notice), and the conditions for the issuance of such an order are therefore strict.12 It must not be used to circumvent the rules of procedure already provided for in the Code of Civil Procedure.13Norwich orders usually contain conclusions requiring the court file to be sealed and providing for the confidentiality of the order itself for a specified time period. Because of the confidentiality surrounding this type of recourse, it is difficult to give an exhaustive review of the orders issued by the Superior Court of Québec in such matters over the past few years.14Since the criteria for the issuance of a Norwich order adopted by the Court of Appeal of Québec in Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C15 are the same as those accepted by the common law provinces, the decisions rendered in those jurisdictions are relevant and useful to us in providing a framework for and defining the scope of the orders which can be issued in Quebec.For example, the Court of Appeal for Ontario recently heard a case involving an application for a Norwich order which sought to obtain the disclosure of the identity of the sources of a journalist for the Globe and Mail.16 In that case, the Court of Appeal for Ontario had to assess the criteria for the issuance of a Norwich order in the context of a journalist’s privilege with respect to the confidentiality of his sources, as pleaded by the respondent journalist.17Firstly, the Court decided, under the first criterion of the Norwich Test, i.e. the existence of a reasonable claim, that it was not necessary to require that there be a “ prima facie case” in situations in which the journalist-source privilege is invoked.18Secondly, the Court held that the actual assessment of the journalist-source privilege must take place under the fifth criterion of the Norwich Test, i.e. whether the interests of justice favour the disclosure of the information. At this stage, this privilege must be analyzed according to the criteria under the Wigmore test, which therefore intersects with the Norwich Test. The Court stated that the respondent journalist had the burden of proving that the Wigmore test had been met, while the appellant had to show that the interests of justice favour the disclosure of the information under the fifth criterion of the Norwich Test. The Court noted that where it is shown that the Wigmore test is satisfied, the disclosure of the journalist’s sources will probably not be in the interests of justice, on the other hand, if the Wigmore test is not satisfied, it probably will be in the interests of justice to order disclosure.19In the event a Quebec court is seized of an application for a Norwich order seeking the disclosure of journalistic sources, it will be relevant to consider the decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 1654776 Ontario Limited in deciding whether a Norwich-type order can be issued in Quebec in a similar context.In addition, since Norwich orders are similar in nature to Anton Piller orders, one would be well advised to apply the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of Canada in Celanese Canada v. Murray Demolition20 (“Celanese”) concerning Anton Piller orders, with the necessary adjustments, particularly where the Norwich order is required to obtain the disclosure of information or documents to enable the applicant to verify the existence of a cause of action, or to trace and secure evidence or assets.In fact, in the Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C. case,21 the Court of Appeal of Québec based itself on the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of Canada in Celanese22 to order the appellants to file either a personal report, or a report prepared by a firm of forensic accountants, in the Superior Court record, within a specified time period, concerning the information obtained from the financial institutions.Finally, with respect to Anton Piller orders, the Court of Appeal of Québec23 recently noted once again that, at the stage of issuing the order, the judge can only base himself on the allegations and exhibits filed in support of the application. Therefore, the motions judge must necessarily rely on accurate and full disclosure by the deponents as well as the professionalism of the lawyers involved in the order.24 One would likewise be well advised to follow the same approach in proceedings for a Norwich order.CONCLUSIONThe Norwich order is a recourse that can be highly effective, particularly in files involving fraud and misappropriation of funds, or when it is necessary to identify an unknown wrongdoer.In 2002, the Court of Appeal of Québec recognized the application of the principles relating to Anton Piller orders under Quebec law.25 Over the past ten years, there have been significant developments in the case law on these types of orders, which have been subject to strict guidelines since the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in Celanese.26 Those guidelines served as the basis for the criteria applicable to Norwich orders.Since this is an extraordinary recourse which is brought ex parte, and which, furthermore, seeks the issuance of an order against parties who are not involved in the dispute, the applicant must draft the allegations in support of its application with candor. The order sought should:  Be carefully drafted and specifically identify the information and documents to be disclosed as well as the time period covered and, where necessary, provide the applicable guarantees, particularly with respect to the treatment of privileged or confidential documents or information; Be clearly defined in duration and, where relevant, order the court record to be sealed as well as the necessary measures to provide for the confidentiality thereof for a defined and sufficient period of time to ensure the effective execution of the order being issued; Provide, where relevant, for the appointment of a firm of outside experts to collect the documents and information received and prepare a report for the court; Specify that the use of the information and documents disclosed is limited to the legitimate objective of the application (for example, locating and tracking the movement of funds) and that they can only be used in legal proceedings instituted to achieve this objective; Provide for adequate compensation to the third parties for the costs incurred by them in gathering and disclosing the information and documents in fulfillment of the order._________________________________________ 1 Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C. et al c. Picard et al, C.A.Q. 200-09-007991-133, June 12, 2013.2 Raymond Chabot SST inc. v. Groupe AST (1993) inc., [2002] R.J.Q. 2715 (C.A.).3 Alberta (Treasury Branches) v. Leahy, 2000 ABQB 575 (CanLII).4 Alberta (Treasury Branches) v. Leahy, 2002 ABCA 101 (CanLII), leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada denied.5 GEA Group AG. v. Flex-N-Gate Corporation, 2009 ONCA 619 (CanLII).6 Norwich Pharmacal Co. v. Commissioners of Customs and Excise [1974] A.C. 133.7 Glaxo Wellcome PLC v. M.N.R. [1998] 4 C.F. 439, leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada denied.8 Alberta (Treasury Branches) v. Leahy, supra, note 3, para. [106].9 GEA Group AG. v. Flex-N-Gate Corporation, supra, note 5.10 Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C. et al c. Picard et al, supra, note 1.11 Daniel Jutras, “ Culture et droit processuel : le cas du Québec “, in the McGill Law Journal/Revue de droit de McGill, 2009, Vol. 54, 2009, page 273, at pages 288 to 292; see also Lac d’amiante du Québec ltée v. 2858-0702 Québec inc. [2001] 2 S.C.R. 743, paras. 35, 37 and 39; Raymond Chabot SST inc. c. Groupe AST (1993) inc., supra, note 2; articles 20 and 46 of the Code of Civil Procedure.12 Alberta (Treasury Branches) v. Leahy, supra, note 3, para. [106].13 Lac d’amiante du Québec ltée c. 2858-0702 Québec inc., supra, note 11.14 See, in particular, Gestion d’hôtel Sherbrooke Ltée (Proposition de) 2011 QCCS 7232 (CanLII), Corbeil c. Caisse Desjardins De Lorimier, 2011 QCCS 6867 (CanLII), GE Canada Equipment Financing G.P. c. T.D. Canada Trust, 2010 QCCS 7128 (CanLII), PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. v. Bank of Montreal, S.C. Montreal, no. 500-17-063626-116, Empire, compagnie d’assurance-vie v. Thibault, S.C. Montreal, 500-17-029064-063, 500-17-030305-067 and 500-17-029680-066.15 Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C. et al c. Picard et al, supra, note 1.16 1654776 Ontario Limited v. Stewart, 2013 ONCA 184 (CanLII), leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada denied on September 19, 2013.17 On the journalistic sources privilege and the Wigmore test, see R. v. National Post, [2010] 1 S.C.R. 477 and Globe and Mail v. Canada (A.G.), [2010] 2 S.C.R. 593.18 1654776 Ontario Limited v. Stewart, supra, note 16, see, in particular, paras. [49] and [75].19 1654776 Ontario Limited v. Stewart, supra, note 16, para. [78].20 Celanese Canada v. Murray Demolition, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 189.21 Fers et Métaux Américains S.E.C. et al c. Picard et al, supra, note 1.22 Celanese Canada c. Murray Demolition, supra, note 20.23 IMS Health Canada Inc. c. Th!nk Business Insights Ltd., 2013 QCCA 1303 (CanLII), application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada pending.24 Celanese Canada c. Murray Demolition, supra, note 20, para. [36].25 Raymond Chabot SST inc. c. Groupe AST (1993) inc., supra, note 2.26 Celanese Canada c. Murray Demolition, supra, note 20.

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  • Quarterly legal newsletter intended for accounting, management, and finance professionals, Number 21

    CONTENTS The Pros and Cons of Arbitration Clauses in Commercial Contracts Pirating and Using Software Without a Licence: The BSA | The Software Alliance Case Interprovincial Taxation: The Importance of Severing Residential Ties on Departure Security Under Section 427 of the Bank Act: Do the Rights of a Bank Rank Ahead of Those of the Holder of a Retention Right? THE PROS AND CONS OF ARBITRATION CLAUSES IN COMMERCIAL CONTRACTSCatherine Méthot and André PaquetteArbitration clauses are increasingly finding their way into commercial contracts. However, the fact that arbitration is a frequently chosen path nowadays does not necessarily mean that it is always the best solution. One must know its advantages and disadvantages and be wary of standard clauses which may be ill-adapted to one’s situation.Generally, the main advantages and disadvantages of arbitration clauses which are most often mentioned are the following:Advantages: (i) simplified procedure; (ii) less documentation to file; (iii) obtaining a decision is quicker than in the context of the judicial process; (iv) generally reduced costs compared to the judicial process; (v) absence of a right to appeal; and (vi) the confidentiality of the process and the decision, subject to an application for homologation of the arbitral award or a recourse to cancel the decision.Disadvantages : (i) the absence of a right to appeal, with some exceptions; (ii) the risk of the arbitration clause being ill-adapted to your particular situation; (iii) costs beyond the expectations of the parties, particularly when three arbitrators are appointed, some authors even maintaining that in such a case, arbitrators’ fees are sometimes almost multiplied by four because of the delays caused by time management and communications between three arbitrators;(iv) the impossibility to access items of evidence in the hands of opposing party outside of the judicial process; and (v) the exclusion of this decision from case law while the issue in dispute may constitute an important law issue.Before inserting an arbitration clause in a contract, one must assess these advantages and disadvantages and, if arbitration is chosen, the terms of the clause must be adapted, particularly with respect to following items : (i) things and situations covered under the clause; (ii) applicable law, making sure to verify whether such law limits or prohibits arbitration (for example, section 11.1 of the Consumer Protection Act,1 which prohibits stipulations whereby the consumer is obliged to refer a dispute to arbitration or restrict his right to go before a court, particularly by prohibiting him from bringing a class action or being a member of a group exercising such a remedy); (iii) the opportunity to provide for a right to appeal; (iv) the confidentiality of the arbitration process (subject to an application for homologation or a recourse for cancelling the decision); (v) the arbitration process (number of arbitrators, rules for submitting evidence, etc.); and (vi) the opportunity to provide for mediation meetings prior to arbitration.In all cases, the objective sought should be to ensure that in the event a dispute occurs, your interest will be better served by arbitration rather than the judicial process. If such is not the case, avoid inserting an arbitration clause in your contract._________________________________________1 C. P-40.1.PIRATING AND USING SOFTWARE WITHOUT A LICENCE: THE BSA | THE SOFTWARE ALLIANCE CASEBruno VerdonThe claims of the BSA | the Software Alliance (the “BSA”) against Quebec and Canadian businesses seem to be increasingly frequent.The BSA is a U.S.-based non-profit organization operating in more than 80 countries. Its members include companies such as Adobe, Apple, IBM and Microsoft.According to the information it publishes on its website, the BSA particularly fights copyright infringement when software has been installed by users without acquiring the necessary licence. It would appear that most investigations of the BSA target businesses and are conducted further to calls on its anti-piracy line or anonymous reporting via its website. Most reports come from current or former employees. In principle, after receiving information alleging software infringement, the BSA contacts the business to investigate the matter further and invites it to negotiate a settlement where it concludes that there is actual infringement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the BSA assigns the file to its attorneys and ultimately, if they cannot negotiate a settlement, the case goes to court.In Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, the BSA bases its claims for use of software without a licence on the provisions of the Copyright Act.1 this Act particularly provides that “When a person infringes copyright, the person is liable to pay such damages to the owner of the copyright as the owner has suffered due to the infringement and, in addition to those damages, such part of the profits that the infringer has made from the infringement and that were not taken into account in calculating the damages as the court considers just.”2In addition, since the Act to amend the Copyright Act,3 assented to on June 29, 2012, came into force, the holder of the infringed copyright may elect to claim, instead of damages and profits made by the person who infringed the copyright in question, an award of statutory damages which are not less than $500 and not more than $20,000 per violation if the infringements are for commercial purposes and not less than $100 and not more than $5,000 in the case of violations for non-commercial purposes.4Therefore, since 2012, a business which uses software without having acquired the required licences is liable to a claim of not less than $500 and not more than $20,000 per licence which it failed to acquire.In the case of Adobe Systems Incorporated et al. c. Thompson (Appletree Solutions),5 the Federal Court was called upon to apply this new provision of the Copyright Act. the Court noted that in awarding statutory damages, the following must be taken into account: (1) the good or bad faith of defendant, (2) the conduct of the parties before and during the proceedings; and (3) the need to deter other infringements of the copyright in question.Having concluded that proof had been made of the intention of the defendant to infringe and that severe deterrent measures were warranted, the Federal Court issued an injunctive order to prevent defendant from continuing to violate copyrights. On the issue of damages, the Court declared:“ I find no reason not to award maximum statutory damages in the amount of $340,000, being $20,000 per work infringed for each of the three Plaintiffs.”Proof the (1) the good or bad faith of defendant, (2) the conduct of the parties before and during the proceedings; and (3) the need to deter other infringements of the copyright in question being easier to make than that of the damages, it is anticipated that the BSA and its members will not hesitate in invoking the statutory damages provided for in this new provision of the Act in support of their claims.As these statutory damages can be well beyond the value of each non-acquired licence, it goes without saying that a negotiated settlement of the claim will constitute a preferred approach.The BSA usually publishes on its website the settlement agreements entered into with businesses.However, nothing prevents the parties from agreeing that the settlement of the claim and the settlement terms will be kept confidential, which will avoid he business concerned having its name associated with the settlement of a BSA claim._________________________________________1 R.S.C. (1895) c. C-42.2 Ibid., sec. 35.3 S.C. 2012, ch. 20.4 Ibid., sec. 38.1.5 2012 CF 1219 (CanLII).INTERPROVINCIAL TAXATION: THE IMPORTANCE OF SEVERING RESIDENTIAL TIES ON DEPARTUREJean-Philippe LatreilleThe place of residence of an individual is a fundamental tax concept which determines, among other things, his liability for provincial income tax. under the Taxation Act,1 an individual is subject to tax for a given year if he resides in Quebec on December 31 of that year. the tax base then consists of the individual’s income from all sources, except for business income from a Canadian establishment situated outside Quebec.The fact that an individual moves from a province to another usually results in a change of his place of residence for provincial tax purposes. However, it may happen that some residential ties with the province of origin remain, with unanticipated and unwanted results, as shown by a recent decision of the Court of Quebec in the case of Perron c. L’Agence du revenu du Québec.2In that case, the taxpayer was challenging assessments made by revenu Québec for taxation years 2005 to 2007, arguing that he was a resident of Alberta during the relevant period. the taxpayer, an engineer, had held various positions in Quebec prior to moving in Alberta in May 2005 after finding permanent employment there. From that time on, the taxpayer had rented a dwelling unit in Alberta and had purchased furniture for it. He also had opened a bank account and became a member of the Association of Professional engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta.However, the taxpayer had retained several residential ties with Quebec during years 2005 to 2007, particularly the following:a) His spouse, to whom he was married since 1985, and his son had continued residing in Quebec despite the departure of the taxpayer for Alberta. the taxpayer was neither divorced or separated under a judgment or a written agreement. b) the taxpayer had remained co-owner with his spouse of the family residence located in Beauport. c) the taxpayer had continued to provide for the financial needs of his son and to assume certain maintenance expenses of the residence located in Quebec. d) the taxpayer had stayed in Quebec every three months for periods of four or five days. When doing so, he was staying at his residence in Beauport. e) the taxpayer had retained his Quebec driver’s licence and maintained is eligibility to the Quebec health insurance regime. f) the taxpayer had remained a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec. g) the taxpayer had continued to use the postal address of his Beauport residence, particularly with respect to his credit cards. h) the taxpayer was the owner of a vehicle registered in Quebec, which he had given to his son in 2009. The Court determined that the taxpayer had provided prima facie evidence that his tax residence was located in Alberta during years 2005 to 2007, particularly by establishing the permanent nature of his position in Alberta and the low frequency of his visits in Quebec. the tax authorities thus had the burden to prove that the residence of the taxpayer had remained in Quebec.After reviewing the case law, the Court concluded that revenu Québec had established, by preponderance of evidence, that the taxpayer had retained his tax residence in Quebec during the disputed period by reason of the absence of severance of residential ties with Quebec.The judge particularly noted the absence of evidence corroborating the separation between the taxpayer and his spouse. According to the Court, several factors rather indicated that the spousal link was maintained between them. In addition, the taxpayer failed to establish sufficient connection to Alberta, except for his employment.This decision of the Court of Quebec, which was not appealed, underlines the importance of severing all residential ties with Quebec when moving to another province, particularly if the tax regime of the other province is less onerous. the place of residence is a complex issue which has to be decided according to the legislation in force and applicable case law. Any individual who maintains a more or less important presence in more than one province would be well-advised to consult a professional in this respect._________________________________________1 RLRQ RSQ?, c. I-3.2 2013 QCCQ 3271.SECURITY UNDER SECTION 427 OF THE BANK ACT: DO THE RIGHTS OF A BANK RANK AHEAD OF THOSE OF THE HOLDER OF A RETENTION RIGHT?Mathieu Thibault, Étienne Guertin and Jean LegaultFor financing its activities, a Quebec-based business may grant to a Canadian chartered bank a security under 427 of the Bank Act. This security interest allows the bank to exercise its rights on the borrower’s inventories as well as on the debts resulting from their sale while avoiding the formalities and notices which would otherwise be required under the Civil Code of Québec upon the exercise of a hypothecary remedy.1For its part, article 2293 of the Civil Code of Québec allows the holder of a retention right to retain the stored property until the depositor has, among other things, paid him the agreed upon compensation.In the Levinoff-Colbex, s.e.c. (Séquestre de) et RSM Richter inc.,2 the Superior Court had to decide whether the rights of National Bank of Canada (“NBC”) resulting from a security granted to it under the Bank Act, a federal statute, ranked ahead of the retention right relied upon by another creditor under the Civil Code of Québec following the failure of the debtor to meet its contractual commitments respecting the payment of the storage and refrigeration costs of its inventories.According to the Superior Court, the rights of a creditor under section 427 of the Bank Act may be described as a sui generis ownership right, according to the wording used by the Court of Appeal in the case of Banque Canadienne Nationale v. Lefaivre.3However, this sui generis ownership right does not constitute a true ownership right within the meaning of the Quebec civil law on property covered by such security interest. Section 427 and following of the Bank Act rather establish a security interest regime focused on ownership and confer on the bank which holds such security interest rights as a secured creditor and not as an owner of the property covered by such security interest.In this context, NBC could not be bound by the retention right created in favour of another creditor. In fact, the determination of the priority of these rights did not derive from holding an ownership right within the meaning of civil law: the NBC was rather a secured creditor of the debtor.The priority of creditors’ rights must be determined by applying and interpreting the Bank Act in accordance with the doctrine of paramountcy and the judgment issued by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Bank of Montreal v. Innovation Credit Union.4Since section 428 of the Bank Act contains an express provision resolving this priority conflict, one has simply to apply the rule provided in this section whereby the rights of the BNC had “priority over all rights subsequently acquired in, on or in respect of that property” covered by the security interest._________________________________________1 Banque de Montréal v. Hall, [1990] 1 S.C.R.2 2013 QCCS 1489. It must be noted that an appeal of this judgment has been filed with the Court of Appeal under number 500-09-023539-133.3 [1951] B.R. 83, at page 88, referring to Landry Pulpwood Co. v. Banque Canadienne Nationale, [1937] S.C.R. 605, page 615.4 [2010] 3 S.C.R.3

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  • Legal newsletter for business entrepreneurs and executives, Number 16

    CONTENTS  Some practical advice on the recording of customer phone calls in Quebec Employment placement agencies : who is responsible for the source deductions? What are your recourses if you believe a contract is about to be, or has been, awarded to another bidder?  SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE ON THE RECORDING OF CUSTOMER PHONE CALLS IN QUEBECGuillaume LabergeMany businesses engage in the practice of recording customer calls. They do so for various reasons, including to verify quality of service, to handle complaints or to train employees.Because these recordings contain customers’ personal information, certain precautions must be taken in the collection and retention of such information, especially since the subsequent use thereof, without a customer’s consent, may infringe on his privacy rights.1The Québec Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector2 (“APPIPS”) does not govern this process and, to the best of our knowledge, the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec has not yet ruled on the issue.The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has published Guidelines for Recording of Customer Telephone Calls3 for private sector companies operating in Canada. Given that the obligations imposed by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act4 (“PIPEDA”) are substantially the same as those imposed by APPIPS, it is our opinion that the federal guidelines should be followed by Québec companies.The Office of the Privacy Commissioner is of the view that the recording of customer calls is permitted under PIPEDA subject to compliance with certain requirements, applicable both to incoming and outgoing calls.First, the collection of information must be motivated by a specific purpose. In Québec, the APPIPS expressly provides that, “[a]ny person collecting personal information to establish a file on another person or to record personal information in such a file may collect only the information necessary for the object of the file”5. This suggests that the use of such recordings for purely administrative purposes would be difficult to justify in view of this requirement. Customer service representatives must exercise caution when recording phone calls and must refrain from asking questions or making comments that could result in the collection of information that is unrelated to the reasons for recording the call.Federal guidelines also stipulate that in order to comply with PIPEDA, it is necessary to inform the person, at the outset, that his or her call may be recorded. A customer’s consent may be obtained in several ways. He or she can be verbally advised either by an automatic recording or by a customer service representative. According to federal guidelines of the Commissioner, a clear statement by the company printed on customers’ monthly statements could also suffice.Furthermore, a reasonable effort must be made to inform the customer of the reasons for the recording. It is important to note that the company must communicate clearly the real reason. It cannot claim, for example, that the recording is for the purpose of quality control when in fact it will be used to fulfill other objectives, as legitimate as those may be.However, a caller’s tacit consent may be inferred if, knowing the conversation is being recorded for a particular purpose, the caller does not object thereto and continues the conversation. If the caller refuses to allow the recording, he must be offered certain practical solutions, such as to not have the call recorded, to present himself at the nearest branch or point of sale, or to submit a complaint, question or comment online or by mail. In our opinion, it is not necessary that these options be presented at the outset of each call but they can be outlined in the company’s privacy policy, for example, or as a stipulation appearing on customers’ monthly statements.Notwithstanding a few exceptions, telephone conversations cannot be recorded without the express or implied consent of the person whose personal information is being collected. Included in the exceptions, under PIPEDA, consent is not required when the purpose of the recording is debt recovery or investigation of potential fraud. In such circumstances, the need to obtain consent could adversely affect the company’s ability to obtain accurate information.Lastly, the guidelines only address the protection of personal information of customers. However, the recordings may also infringe the privacy rights of employees. Therefore, employees should also be informed of the practice and the reasons for the recording._________________________________________1 Civil Code of Québec, S.Q. 1991, c. 64, arts. 35 and 36.2 R.S.Q., c. P-39.1.3 Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Guidelines for Recording of Customer Telephone Calls, June 10, 2008, available online: S.C. 2000, c. 5.5 Section 5, APPIPS.EMPLOYMENT PLACEMENT AGENCIES: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SOURCE DEDUCTIONS?Carolyne CorbeilQuebec employers are increasingly resorting to placement agencies to quickly meet their need for occasional workers. While this new business model is gaining in popularity and offers many advantages, it also upsets the traditional bipartite “employer-employee” relationship. Thus, since the placement agency functions as an intermediary between the client and the worker, a tripartite employment relationship is created. This raises the issue as to whether the employer-employee relationship remains intact and, if so, then who is responsible for the source deductions. The Court of Québec recently answered these questions in the case of Agence Océanica inc. v. Agence du revenu du Québec.1FACTSIn this case, the placement agency, Océanica (hereinafter “Océanica”), was in the business of providing nursing staff for the short-term needs of hospitals, residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) and local community service centres (CLSCs) (hereinafter the “clients”). It operated as an intermediary between the clients and nurses: clients informed Océanica of their nursing staff requirements and Océanica did the recruiting. At the clients’ workplace, the nurses received their instructions from the clients, particularly in terms of the duties to be performed by them and their work methods, acting under the clients’ supervision. Océanica billed the clients for the nurses’ compensation, plus an amount for Océanica’s profit margin. Based mainly on the testimony of the nurses working for Océanica, it was apparent that they had no written employment contract with Océanica, they bore no risk of profit or loss, and they paid for their employment expenses themselves, without reimbursement by Océanica.Océanica considered the nurses to be self-employed workers rather than employees. Thus, the compensation paid to the nurses would not be subject to the applicable source deductions in Quebec, i.e. for the QPP (Québec Pension Plan), QPIP (Québec Parental Insurance Plan), HSF (Health Services Fund) and CNT (Commission des normes du travail).On the other hand, the Agence du revenu du Québec (hereinafter the “ARQ”) submitted that the nurses were not self-employed workers, but rather employees, and therefore assessed Océanica for the amounts due, plus penalties and interest, on account of the aforementioned source deductions on the compensation paid to the nurses.Océanica appealed the assessment by the ARQ to the Court of Québec for a ruling on whether the nurses were employees or self-employed workers.THE COURT OF QUÉBEC’S DECISIONAfter conducting a general review of the definitions of the concepts of employer and employee under various tax statutes, the Court admitted that there was not much substance to these definitions and that they were not very helpful in characterizing such a complex relationship as the one that existed between Océanica and its nurses. Nevertheless, the Court found that the payment of compensation was of particular importance for a person to qualify as an “employer” for purposes of the Taxation Act2 (Quebec).As for the concept of the employment contract under the Civil Code of Québec,3 the Quebec case law has noted on many occasions that it must be analyzed on the basis of its three components, namely the performance of work, the compensation, and the relationship of subordination between employer and employee, with subordination being the main criterion for a finding of employee status. However, in the context of a tripartite relationship involving an intermediary, as opposed to the classic employment relationship between two parties, determining who is the true employer based on the subordination criteria may be difficult. Instead, a more general and broader analysis of the criterion of the employees’ legal subordination must be conducted and other criteria should also be considered, such as the selection of the employees, hiring, training, discipline, evaluation, etc. Thus, the Court took a more general approach to the relationship between Océanica and its nurses which was not limited to the nurses’ functions and to the degree of supervision exercised by Océanica over them.The fact that some of the classic functions of the employer (i.e. recruiting, training and supervision) were shared between Océanica and the clients did not change the nature of the nurses’ work per se. Indeed, if the clients had not been there to offer employment and Océanica had not functioned as the link between the clients and nurses, the nurses would have been unable to offer their services. The nurses were integrated into the clients’ businesses and acted under their supervision. The nurses were not administering a business. To claim that the nurses were self-employed workers because Océanica, by itself, did not fulfill all the attributes of a classic employer would have led to an absurd result. For these reasons, the Court held that it was an error to claim that Océanica’s nurses were self-employed workers.Therefore, the Court found that the nurses were employees of Océanica. Indeed, the judge stated that by inserting itself into the classic relationship between the clients and the nurses, Océanica assumed some of the employer’s functions, such as the recruiting and payment of the nurses’ compensation. In this regard, the Court found that Océanica acted as the clients’ mandatary and had entered into binding obligations on their behalf. As a result, Océanica became responsible for the clients’ tax liabilities, in accordance with the concept of mandate set out in the Civil Code of Québec.4COMMENTSThe Court essentially took a two-pronged approach to this decision. Firstly, it dismissed Océanica’s argument that the nurses were self-employed workers. Secondly, since the nurses were found to be employees, the Court had to determine who was liable for the source deductions. The Court strongly emphasized the role of the person paying the compensation in reaching the conclusion that the nurses were employees of Océanica, since Océanica paid them their wages directly.At first sight, this decision confirms the role of the employment agency as an employer of workers and its obligation to make the source deductions in Quebec from the compensation paid to them. Thus, employment agencies should remember that they must be vigilant with respect to the status of their personnel and the tax obligations for which they are responsible.However, the Court’s conclusion regarding the mandator-mandatary relationship between Océanica and the clients may lead to confusion. Indeed, it is unclear what effect this conclusion would have in a situation in which the placement agency is delinquent and fails to make the requisite source deductions.Finally, it should be noted that Océanica has appealed this decision to the Québec Court of Appeal. Hopefully, the Court of Appeal will take the opportunity to clarify the conclusion of the Court of Québec. We will be following these developments closely. Until then, caution is advised..._________________________________________1 2012 QCCQ 5370.2 R.S.Q., c. I-3 and amendments.3 S.Q. 1991, c. 64 (“C.C.Q.”).4 Article 2157 C.C.Q.WHAT ARE YOUR RECOURSES IF YOU BELIEVE A CONTRACT IS ABOUT TO BE, OR HAS BEEN, AWARDED TO ANOTHER BIDDER?Julie CousineauQuestions concerning the legality of the call for tenders process are regularly submitted to the courts. Obviously, when the contract contemplated in a call for tenders is important, each of the businesses that went through the process will have an interest in, and will want to obtain, the contract.What should you do if your business is not awarded the contract you wanted so badly? Below is a brief description of the legal remedies available in light of the recent case law. It should be noted that the remedies described below can be instituted against any business, whether public or private. However, in the case of an action against the government itself, it will not be possible to institute injunction proceedings, but it is possible to obtain a safeguard order in very exceptional circumstances. (We will not consider those circumstances in this article.)Firstly, before anything else, you must ensure that you responded to all the requests and formalities set out in the call for tenders. It goes without saying that the courts will not be able to sanction the party contracting out the work (the client) at the behest of a bidder that did not comply with the rules laid down in the call for tender documents.1GENERAL RECOURSE: DAMAGESSeveral recourses are available to aggrieved bidders. Most often, they will institute an action in damages seeking compensation for the losses they have suffered and profits they were deprived of. The bidder’s lost profits must be proven with well-documented evidence to obtain the amounts claimed, and will not be awarded unless it is clearly proven that the bidder ought to have received the contract. Note that the evidence of damages generally requires the disclosure of sensitive information belonging to the aggrieved company, such as profit margins or financial statements.Furthermore, in the event that a bidder participates in a second call for tenders launched by the client after participating in a first call for tenders (where the first call for tenders was canceled), if the bidder subsequently institutes an action in damages based on the first call for tenders, it may be dismissed on the grounds that the bidder waived this recourse when it decided to bid in the second call for tenders.2APPLICATION FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OR ACTION IN NULLITYSometimes, an aggrieved bidder may wish to apply for a declaration by the court that the client did not comply with the tender process or that the process should be annulled, particularly in cases where the client is a public entity subject to a special statute establishing a framework for the call for tenders process (e.g. Cities and Towns Act, Act Respecting Contracting by Public Bodies). In such cases, the bidder may institute an action for a declaratory judgment or an action in nullity seeking a declaration that the tendering process engaged in is null and void. The main purpose of such actions is to obtain an answer to a clear question submitted to the court.INJUNCTION OR APPLICATION FOR A SAFEGUARD ORDERAn aggrieved bidder may also apply to the court for an injunction or safeguard order to suspend a tender process that is underway (temporarily and incidentally to another action or on a permanent basis). However, it is important to know that it is difficult to succeed in an injunction action, among other things, because the criteria for a successful injunction are somewhat difficult to meet in the context of a call for tenders. Injunctions are an exceptional remedy and, since the courts have the discretion to grant or refuse them, they will frequently be reticent to intervene in a process governed by rules laid down in a statute or by the parties.To obtain an injunction order, the following criteria must be met: a prima facie case, serious or irreparable harm, and the balance of convenience.A prima facie case is met, in particular, where the applicant (the aggrieved bidder) proves to the court that the process does not comply with the applicable statutes (particularly in matters involving a public body), the client has failed to comply with the very process it put in place, or there is a major irregularity in this process. Indeed, the principle of the equality of bidders is a basic principle in tender matters that has been reaffirmed on many occasions by the courts. By itself, this criterion is generally not too difficult to meet.3Once a prima facie case has been established, the bidder must show that it would suffer irreparable or serious prejudice, i.e. which is not compensable in damages. This criterion is more difficult to meet because, in several cases submitted to the courts, they have concluded that the prejudice was ultimately compensable in damages based on the profits which the applicant bidder hoped to make. Note that the loss of expertise where the contract is awarded to the bidder’s competitor instead of the bidder, and the difficulties in assessing the amount of damages (due to mathematically complex calculations) were not found to be irreparable prejudice by the courts.4 On the other hand, where the bidder can show that his business is at risk of shutting down, the courts will be more inclined to issue the order.5Finally, if the court finds that the right on which the applicant is relying is not perfectly clear, it must decide which of the parties would suffer greater inconvenience if the order is rendered. In this regard, it should be noted that if the call for tenders involves a public body, it will benefit from a presumption that the contract contemplated in the call for tenders is made in the public interest. In such a case, it will be easier for the public body to turn the balance in its favour as compared with a private interest. On the other hand, there have been some cases involving public bodies in which the illegality committed by the public body was so great that the court concluded it was in the interest of the parties and the public to obtain a ruling on the issue of legality, while suspending the process in the meantime.6Finally, the court will also consider whether there is sufficient urgency at certain stages of the application for an injunction or safeguard order.CONCLUSIONIf you feel that you have been wronged in the context of a call for tenders, it is important to quickly assess the solutions available to you. Depending on the facts and legal issues involved, one remedy may be more appropriate than another. In any case, to benefit from all the possible remedies, you should not wait too long before evaluating which solution is best for you._________________________________________1 Simplex Grinnel inc. v. Cégep de Sainte-Foy, 2012 QCCS 4512.2 Entreprises Léopold Bouchard et Fils v. St-Tharcisius (Municipalité de ), 2012 QCCS 4071 (appeal filed).3 RJR McDonald v. Canada (P.G.), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 311, p.46.4 Entrepreneur général Uuchii inc. v. Québec (Procureur général), 2012 QCCS 4500.5 Orthofab v. Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec, 2012 QCCS 1876.6 Ibid, note 5.

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  • Quarterly legal newsletter intended for accounting, management, and finance professionals, Number 18

    Are you ready? The harmonization of the QST and the GST may considerably impact your business or clients Sale of litigious rights : Beware of the redemption right Determining the purchase price of shares in a shareholder agreement: When “quiconque” (“any person”) excludes the person who signs Advance notice policies : A tool to consider with regard to shareholder nominations for electing directors

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  • Francization – Bill No 14 amending the Charter of the French language

    This publication was authored by Luc Thibaudeau, former partner of Lavery and now judge in the Civil Division of the Court of Québec, District of Longueuil. The title of this newsletter gives a good summary of the explanatory notes that serve as an introduction to Bill 14, entitled An Act to amend the Charter of the French language, the Charter of human rights and freedoms and other legislative provisions (the “Bill”). The legislator is concerned that English is being used systematically in certain workplaces. The Bill was tabled on December 5, 2012 and the proposed amendments are designed to reaffirm the primacy of French as the official and common language of Quebec.

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