Barrette et al. v. St. Lawrence Cement Inc. et al., (2008) 382 N.R. 105 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., Bastarache, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella and Charron, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMarch 27, 2008
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2008), 382 N.R. 105 (SCC);2008 SCC 64

Barrette v. St. Lawrence Cement Inc. (2008), 382 N.R. 105 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

.........................

Temp. Cite: [2008] N.R. TBEd. NO.004

St. Lawrence Cement Inc. (appellant/respondent on cross-appeal) v. Huguette Barrette and Claude Cochrane in their capacity of representing the designated group (respondents/appellants on cross-appeal) and Friends of the Earth, Quebec Environmental Law Centre and Quebec Business Council on the Environment (intervenors)

(31782; 2008 SCC 64; 2008 CSC 64)

Indexed As: Barrette et al. v. St. Lawrence Cement Inc. et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

McLachlin, C.J.C., Bastarache, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella and Charron, JJ.

November 20, 2008.

Summary:

The plaintiffs lived in a neighbourhood adjacent to the defendant's cement plant. They brought a class action suit against the defendant for neighbourhood disturbances related to the operation of the cement plant. The plaintiffs complained of noise, odours and dust.

The Quebec Superior Court, in a decision reported [2003] R.J.Q. 1883, allowed the action on the basis that a scheme of no-fault liability in respect of neighbourhood disturbances existed under art. 976 of the Civil Code of Québec (C.C.Q.). The court assessed damages on the basis of average amounts. The defendant appealed.

The Quebec Court of Appeal, in a decision reported [2006] R.J.Q. 2633, allowed the appeal in part with regard to certain aspects of the assessment of damages, but found the defendant civilly liable on the basis of proven fault under the general rules of civil liability. The defendant appealed. The plaintiffs cross-appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal, allowed the cross-appeal and restored the judgment at first instance with respect to both the basis of liability and the assessment of damages.

Quebec Prescription - Topic 4081

Interruption of prescription - Civil interruption - Rights and recourses arising from same source as demand - General - In 1952, the Quebec Legislative Assembly adopted a special statute authorizing the defendant to operate a cement plant in Beauport - The plaintiffs lived in the neighbourhood adjacent to the cement plant - Over the years, the neighbourhood residents complained of excessive noise, odours and dust emanating from the plant - The plant closed in 1997 - The plaintiffs invoked art. 976 of the Civil Code of Québec and brought a class action against the defendant - The motion seeking authorization to institute the class action was brought on June 4, 1993 - Authorization was given on May 31, 1994 - The action on the merits was commenced on August 1, 1994 - The trial judge allowed the action, finding that events subsequent to the filing of the motion for authorization, up to 1997, were relevant to the proceedings - The defendant appealed, invoking prescription - The defendant argued that  prescription was not interrupted for damage relating to events subsequent to the judgment authorizing the class action, and the action was thus prescribed as regards such events - The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal, agreeing with the courts below that all events subsequent to the filing of the action were relevant where they resulted from the "same source" - See paragraphs 99 to 106.

Quebec Procedure - Topic 9006

Class action - General - Assessment of damages - [See third Quebec Responsibility - Topic 9102 ].

Quebec Responsibility - Topic 1002

Fault - General - What constitutes - The Supreme Court of Canada held that in Quebec civil law, the violation of a legislative standard did not in itself constitute civil fault - For that, an offence provided for in legislation had to also constitute a violation of the standard of conduct of a reasonable person under the general rules of civil liability set out in art. 1457 of the Civil Code of Québec - See paragraphs 32 to 36.

Quebec Responsibility - Topic 1021

Fault - Abuse of right - General - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the doctrine of abuse of rights in Quebec civil law - See paragraphs 23 to 29.

Quebec Responsibility - Topic 1023

Fault - Abuse of right - When applicable - [See second Quebec Responsibility - Topic 9102 ].

Quebec Responsibility - Topic 1025

Fault - Abuse of right - What constitutes - [See first Quebec Responsibility - Topic 9102 ].

Quebec Responsibility - Topic 9102

No-fault liability - Neighbourhood annoyances - Article 976 of the Civil Code of Québec provided as follows: "Neighbours shall suffer the normal neighbourhood annoyances that are not beyond the limit of tolerance they owe each other, according to the nature or location of their land or local custom" - The Supreme Court of Canada held that an owner who caused abnormal annoyances without either intent to injure or excessive and unreasonable conduct did not abuse his rights, because he could not be accused of wrongful conduct - A finding that abnormal annoyances were caused would therefore not be enough to establish fault in the exercise of a right - See paragraphs 30 and 31.

Quebec Responsibility - Topic 9102

No-fault liability - Neighbourhood annoyances - Article 976 of the Civil Code of Québec (C.C.Q.) provided as follows: "Neighbours shall suffer the normal neighbourhood annoyances that are not beyond the limit of tolerance they owe each other, according to the nature or location of their land or local custom" - The Supreme Court of Canada considered the possibility of liability in situations where neighbours suffered abnormal annoyances but the owner who caused the damage did not commit a fault - The court held as follows: "Even though it appears to be absolute, the right of ownership has limits. Article 976 C.C.Q. establishes one such limit in prohibiting owners of land from forcing their neighbours to suffer abnormal or excessive annoyances. This limit relates to the result of the owner's act rather than to the owner's conduct . It can therefore be said that in Quebec civil law, there is, in respect of neighbourhood disturbances, a no-fault liability regime based on art. 976 C.C.Q. which does not require recourse to the concept of abuse of rights or to the general rules of civil liability. With this form of liability, a fair balance is struck between the rights of owners or occupants of neighbouring lands" - The court also rejected the theory of real liability - See paragraphs 37 to 86.

Quebec Responsibility - Topic 9102

No-fault liability - Neighbourhood annoyances - In 1952, the Quebec Legislative Assembly adopted a special statute authorizing the defendant to operate a cement plant in Beauport - The plaintiffs lived in the neighbourhood adjacent to the cement plant - Over the years, the neighbourhood residents complained of excessive noise, odours and dust emanating from the plant - The plaintiffs invoked art. 976 of the Civil Code of Québec and brought a class action against the defendant - Article 976 provided as follows: "Neighbours shall suffer the normal neighbourhood annoyances that are not beyond the limit of tolerance they owe each other, according to the nature or location of their land or local custom" - The trial judge allowed the action - The annoyances were excessive - The defendant's liability was engaged under art. 976 even though it complied with legislative environmental standards - Also, the defendant had not committed a civil fault - The scheme of liability under art. 976 was available to all of the defendant's neighbours, both lessees and owners, even those who moved near the plant after it opened - The 1952 statutory authorization to operate a cement plant did not give it immunity - There was a common injury but it varied in intensity from one zone to another in the neighbourhood - The trial judge awarded damages that varied from zone to zone - Group members would have to file individual claims for the damages being awarded - The trial judge assessed damages on the basis of average amounts - The Supreme Court of Canada agreed - See paragraphs 10 to 13, 87 to 98, 107 to 118.

Statutes - Topic 1573

Interpretation - Construction where meaning is not plain - Implied meaning - Express language necessary, to restrict ordinary law or common law liability - In 1952, the Quebec Legislative Assembly adopted a special statute authorizing the defendant to operate a cement plant in Beauport - The plaintiffs lived in the neighbourhood adjacent to the cement plant - Over the years, the neighbourhood residents complained of excessive noise, odours and dust emanating from the plant - The plaintiffs invoked art. 976 of the Civil Code of Québec and brought a class action against the defendant - The trial judge allowed the action, holding that the 1952 statutory authorization to operate a cement plant did not give the defendant immunity from civil liability - The Supreme Court of Canada agreed, holding that immunity was unavailable where the 1952 legislation did not use express language excluding the application of the ordinary law - See paragraphs 97 and 98.

Words and Phrases

Neighbour - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the word "neighbour" found at art. 976 of the Civil Code of Québec. L.Q. 1991, c. 64 - See paragraphs 12, 95 and 96.

Words and Phrases

Source - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the word "source" found at art. 2896 of the Civil Code of Québec, L.Q. 1991, c. 64 - See paragraphs 99 to 106.

Cases Noticed:

Houle v. Banque Nationale du Canada, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 122; 114 N.R. 161; 35 Q.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 23].

Brodeur v. Choinière, [1945] C.S. 334 (Que.), refd to. [para. 25].

Air-Rimouski ltée v. Gagnon, [1952] C.S. 149 (Que.), refd to. [para. 25].

Lessard v. Dupont Beaudoin, [1997] R.D.I. 45 (Que. Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 25].

Morin v. Blais, [1977] 1 S.C.R. 570; 10 N.R. 489, refd to. [para. 34].

Compagnie d'assurance Continental du Canada v. 136500 Canada inc., [1998] R.R.A. 707 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 34].

Union commerciale Compagnie d'assurance v. Giguère, [1996] R.R.A. 286 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 34].

Drysdale v. Dugas (1896), 26 S.C.R. 20, consd. [para. 42].

Canada Paper Co. v. Brown (1922), 63 S.C.R. 243, consd. [para. 44].

St-Louis v. Goulet, [1954] B.R. 185 (Que. C.A.), consd. [para. 45].

Katz v. Reitz, [1973] C.A. 230 (Que.), consd. [para. 47].

Lapierre v. Québec (Procureur général), [1985] 1 S.C.R. 241; 58 N.R. 161, consd. [para. 49].

Christopoulos v. Restaurant Mazurka Inc., [1998] R.R.A. 334 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 51].

Domfer Metal Powders Ltd. v. Comité d'environnement de Ville-Émard (C.E.V.E.) et al., [2006] Q.J. No. 13631 (C.A.), leave to appeal granted, [2007] 1 S.C.R. viii; 370 N.R. 398, appeal discontinued, [2008] 2 S.C.R. v, not folld. [para. 62].

Gagné v. Sirois, [1996] Q.J. No. 2669 (C.A.), consd. [para. 63].

Gourdeau v. Letellier de St-Just, [2002] R.J.Q. 1195 (C.A.), consd. [para. 65].

Dell Computer Corp. v. Union des consommateurs et al., [2007] 2 S.C.R. 801; 366 N.R. 1; 2007 SCC 34, consd. [para. 72].

Compagnie pétrolière Impériale ltée v. Québec (Ministre de l'Environnement), [2003] 2 S.C.R. 624; 310 N.R. 343; 2003 SCC 58, consd. [para. 80].

St-Pierre v. Daigle, 2007 QCCS 705, refd to. [para. 83].

Coalition pour la protection de l'environnement du parc linéaire Petit Train du Nord v. Laurentides (Municipalité Régionale de Comté des), [2005] R.J.Q. 116, affd. [2005] Q.J. No. 9042; 2005 QCCA 664, refd to. [para. 83].

Dicaire v. Chambly (Ville), [2000] Q.J. No. 884 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 84].

Bouchard v. Corp. Stone Consolidated, [1997] Q.J. No. 4574 (Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 84].

Arsenault v. Société immobilière du Québec, [1997] Q.J. No. 4570 (Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 84].

Carey Canadian Mines Ltd. v. Plante, [1975] C.A. 893, consd. [para. 96].

Théâtre du Bois de Coulonge inc. v. Société nationale des Québécois et des Québécoises de la Capitale inc., [1993] R.R.A. 41 (Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 96].

Ouimette v. Canada (Procureur général), [2002] R.J.Q. 1228 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 96].

Allen v. Gulf Oil Refining Ltd., [1981] 1 All E.R. 353 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 97].

Manchester v. Farnworth, [1930] A.C. 171 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 97].

Hammersmith and City Railway Co. v. Brand (1869), L.R. 4 H.L. 171, refd to. [para. 97].

Ryan v. Victoria (City) et al., [1999] 1 S.C.R. 201; 234 N.R. 201; 117 B.C.A.C. 103; 191 W.A.C. 103, refd to. [para. 97].

Tock v. St. John's Metropolitan Area Board, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1181; 104 N.R. 241; 82 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 181; 257 A.P.R. 181, refd to. [para. 97].

Canadian Pacific Railway Co. v. Roy, [1902] A.C. 220; 71 L.J.P.C. 51; 86 L.T. 127 (P.C.), refd to. [para. 97].

Laforest v. Ciments du St-Laurent, [1974] C.S. 289 (Que.), refd to. [para. 97].

ABB Inc. v. Domtar Inc., [2005] R.J.Q. 2267; 2005 QCCA 733, consd. [para. 104].

Québec (Curateur public) v. Syndicat national des employés de l'Hopital St-Ferdinand et autres, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 211; 202 N.R. 321, consd. [para. 108].

Hollick v. Metropolitan Toronto (Municipality) et al., [2001] 3 S.C.R. 158; 277 N.R. 51; 153 O.A.C. 279; 2001 SCC 68, dist. [para. 110].

Thompson v. Masson, [2000] R.J.D.T. 1548 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 112].

Andrews et al. v. Grand & Toy (Alberta) Ltd. et al., [1978] 2 S.C.R. 229; 19 N.R. 50; 8 A.R. 182, refd to. [para. 116].

Statutes Noticed:

Atlas Realties Co. - La Compagnie d'Immeubles Atlas, Act respecting, S.Q. 1951-52, c. 131, sect. 5 [paras. 4, 87].

Civil Code of Québec, S.Q. 1991, c. 64, art. 7 [para. 23]; art. 976 [para. 2]; art. 1457 [para. 21]; art. 2098 [para. 100]; art. 2892 [para. 101]; art. 2896 [para. 102].

Companies Act, R.S.Q. 1941, c. 276, generally [para. 4].

Environment Quality Act Regulations (Que.), Regulation respecting pits and quarries, R.R.Q. 1981, c. Q-2, r. 2, sect. 34 [para. 87].

Pits and quarries, Regulation respecting - see Environment Quality Act Regulations (Que.).

Authors and Works Noticed:

Baudoin, Jean-Louis and Deslauriers, Patrice, La responsibilité civile (7th Ed. 2007), vol. 1, pp. 9 [para. 21]; 149 [para. 33]; 165, 171 [para. 21]; 192, 193 [para. 26]; 202 [paras. 69, 70, 73]; 203 [para. 70]; 1200, 1201 [para. 105].

Baudoin, Jean-Louis, and Jobin, Pierre-Gabriel, Les obligations (6th Ed. 2005), p. 38 [para. 21].

Baudoin, Louis, Le droit civil de la Province de Québec: Modèle vivant de Droit comparé (1953), p. 1285 [para. 45].

Carbonnier, Jean, Droit civil (2004), vol. 2, p. 1785 [para. 78].

Cohen, Ronald I., Nuisance: A Proprietary Delict (1968), 14 McGill L.J. 124, pp. 136, 137, 138 [para. 40].

Crépeau, Paul-André, L'intensité de l'obligation juridique ou Des obligations de diligence, de résultat et de garantie (1989), p. 55 [para. 21].

Delaney-Beausoleil, Kathleen, Livre IX: Le recours collectif, in Ferland, D., and Émery, B., Précis de procédure civile du Québec (4th Ed. 2003), vol. 2, p. 906 [para. 84].

Ferland, D., and Émery, B., Précis de procédure civile du Québec (4th Ed. 2003), vol. 2, p. 906 [para. 84].

Flour, Jacques, Aubert, Jean-Luc, and Savaux, Éric, Les obligations, Le fait juridique (10th Ed. 2003), vol. 2, p. 118 [para. 26].

Ghestin, Jacques, and Goubeaux, Gilles, Traité de droit civil (3rd Ed. 1990), vol. 1, pp. 678 [paras. 24, 25]; 679 [para. 25]; 686 [para. 30]; 694 [para. 26].

Jobin, Pierre-Gabriel, La violation d'une loi ou d'un règlement entraîne-t-elle la responsibilité civile? (1984), 44 R. du B. 222, pp. 223 [para. 33]; 226 [para. 34]; 229 [para. 35].

Klar, Lewis N., Tort Law (2nd Ed. 1996), pp. 535, 536 [para. 77].

Laflamme, Lucie, Les rapports de voisinage expliqués par l'obligation propter rem, Mélanges offerts au professeur François Frenette: Étides portant sur le droit patrimonial (2006), pp. 232 [para. 83]; 233, 234 [para. 81].

Lafond, Pierre-Claude, Le recours collectif, le rôle du juge et sa conception de la justice: impact et évolution (2006), p. 189 [para. 113].

Lafond, Pierre-Claude, Précis de droit des biens (2nd Ed. 2007), pp. 404 [paras. 30, 68]; 406 [para. 71]; 425 [para. 26]; 426 [paras. 26, 28] 449 [para. 52]; 454 [para. 84]; 455 [paras. 74, 82, 84].

Lamontagne, Denys-Claude, Special Rules on the Ownership of Immovables and Servitudes, in Reform of the Civil Code (1993), vol. 1-A, p. 6 [para. 26].

Linden, Allen M., and Feldthusen, Bruce, Canadian Tort Law (8th Ed. 2006), pp. 559, 568, 569 [para. 77].

Malaurie, Philippe, Aynès, Laurent, and Stoffel-Munck, Philippe, Les obligations (2nd Ed. 2005), p. 56 [para. 26].

Malinvaud, Philippe, Droit des obligations (8th Ed. 2003), p. 404 [para. 78].

Marty, Gabriel, and Raynaud, Pierre, Les obligations, Les sources (2nd Ed. 1988), vol. 1, p. 542 [para. 26].

Masse, Claude, Civil Liability in Reform of the Civil Code (1993), vol. 2-B, pp. 13, 14 [para. 68].

Mayrand, Albert, Abuse of Rights in France and Quebec (1974), 34 La. L. Rev. 993, pp. 993 [para. 24]; 997 [para. 26].

Mazeaud, Henri, Mazeaud, Léon, and Tunc, André, Traité théorique et pratique de la responsibilité civile délictuelle et contractuelle (6th Ed. 1965), t. 1, p. 431, No. 339 [para. 50]; p. 640 [para. 26].

Nadeau, André, and Nadeau, Richard, Traité pratique de la responsabilité civile délictuelle (1971), pp. 227 [para. 24]; 228 [paras. 24, 26]; 229 [para. 26].

Ouellette, Monique, Book One: Persons, in Reform of the Civil Code (1993), vol. 1-A, p. 5 [paras. 25, 26].

Pineau, Jean, and Ouellette, Monique, Théorie de la responsabilité civile (2nd Ed. 1980), pp. 7, 60 [para. 21]; 73 [para. 26].

Popovici, Adrian, La poule et l'homme: sur l'article 976 C.c.Q. (1997), 99 R. du N. 214, pp. 221 [paras. 68, 71]; 225 [para. 82].

Quebec, Civil Code Revision Office, Committee on the Law of Obligations, Report on Obligations (1975), p. 149 [para. 54].

Quebec, Civil Code Revision Office, Report on the Québec Civil Code, Commentaries (1978), vol. II, t. 2, pp. 619, 620 [para. 55].

Quebec, Civil Code Revision Office, Report on the Québec Civil Code, Draft Civil Code (1978), vol. 1, p. 346 [para. 55].

Québec, Ministère de la Justice, Commentaires du ministre de la Justice: Le Code civil du Québec - Un mouvement de société (1993), vol. 1, pp. 8 [paras. 23, 25]; 569 [para. 58]; 570 [paras. 58, 80]; 573 [para. 58]; 886 [para. 21]; vol. 2, p. 1825 [para. 100].

Royer, Jean-Claude, La preuve civile (3rd Ed. 2003), p. 649 [para. 108].

Starck, Boris, Roland, Henri, and Boyer, Laurent, Obligations, Responsabilité délictuelle (5th Ed. 1996), vol. 1, pp.  169 [para. 78]; 176, 177 [para. 26].

Viney, Geneviève, and Jourdain, Patrice, Traité de droit civil - Les conditions de la responsabilité (2nd Ed. 1998), pp. 328, 342 [para. 35]; 1069, 1070 [para. 78]; 1086 [para. 31].

Counsel:

François Fontaine, Andres C. Garin and Gregory Bordan, for the appellant/respondent on cross-appeal;

Jacques Larochelle, for the respondents/ appellants on cross-appeal;

Michel Bélanger and William Amos, for the intervenors, Friends of the Earth and Quebec Environmental Law Centre;

Guy Du Pont, Marc-André Boutin and Brandon Wiener, for the intervenor, Quebec Business Council on the Environment.

Solicitors of Record:

Ogilvy Renault, Montreal, Quebec, for the appellant/respondent on cross-appeal;

Jacques Larochelle, Quebec, Quebec, for the respondents/appellants on cross-appeal;

Lauzon Bélanger, Montréal, Quebec, for the intervenors, Friends of the Earth and Quebec Environmental Law Centre;

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, Montréal, Quebec, for the intervenor, Quebec Business Council on the Environment.

This appeal was heard on March 27, 2008, by McLachlin, C.J.C., Bastarache, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella and Charron, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The following decision of the Supreme Court was delivered in both official languages by LeBel and Deschamps, JJ., on November 20, 2008. Bastarache, J., did not take part in the judgment.

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59 books & journal articles
  • Table of cases
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Law of Torts. Sixth Edition
    • June 25, 2020
    ...[1994] 3 WLR 354 (HL)....................................................................... 202, 203 St Lawrence Cement Inc v Barrette, 2008 SCC 64, [2008] 3 SCR 392 ...............414 St Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation v BBC Lena (Vessel), 2018 FC 1026 ...................................
  • Just What the Doctor Ordered: A Canadian Approach to Medical Monitoring and Toxic Risk
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Canadian Class Action Review No. 8-2, May 2013
    • May 1, 2013
    ...liability, then this requirement for global assessment would not be required. See, for instance, Barrette c Ciment du St Laurent Inc, 2008 SCC 64 at paras 111–16, where the Supreme Court endorsed Dutil J’s approach to awarding aggregate damages for personal injuries arising from toxic expos......
  • Using Class Actions to Redress Historical Wrongs Committed By the Government
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Canadian Class Action Review No. 8-2, May 2013
    • May 1, 2013
    ...liability, then this requirement for global assessment would not be required. See, for instance, Barrette c Ciment du St Laurent Inc, 2008 SCC 64 at paras 111–16, where the Supreme Court endorsed Dutil J’s approach to awarding aggregate damages for personal injuries arising from toxic expos......
  • Table of cases
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Archive The Law of Torts. Fifth Edition
    • August 30, 2015
    ...3 W.L.R. 354 (H.L.) .................................................................. 200, 201 St. Lawrence Cement Inc. v. Barrette, 2008 SCC 64, [2008] 3 S.C.R. 392 ....................................................................................... 411 Stacey v. Anglican Church of Can......
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