On Friday, November 22, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada is releasing its decisions in two appeals involving the City of Montreal and Octane Stratégie, a public relations and communications firm. At issue is whether the City can get out of paying for a contract that was performed, but not properly approved by council.
The City retained Octane to launch its transportation plan. To put on the launch event, Octane hired Productions Gilles Blais. The event was a success. Octane sent the City three invoices in June 2007. The City paid the three invoices about ten months later. A final invoice, which covered the services of Productions Gilles Blais, was sent in October 2009. By 2010, Octane had not been paid, so it started proceedings against the City and later against Richard Thériault, the director of communications for the City, who had awarded the contracts.
The City claimed that there was a breach of a public policy rule in awarding the contracts because there was no municipal council resolution approving them. The trial judge ordered the City to pay Octane for the fourth contract because the provision of services benefited the City. The claim against Thériault personally was dismissed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the City’s appeal and Octane’s cross-appeal regarding Thériault was declared moot.
Although the SCC granted leave to appeal in this case, I can’t imagine the Court allowing the City to get out of paying for services it received. It seems unjust to punish an innocent supplier and one would assume a director-level employee could bind the City. I’m sure I’m missing the nuances of how the Civil Code of Québec applies, but I’m going with appeal dismissed on both these cases. Get your predictions in today.