mercredi 13 octobre 2010

Un arbitre conventionnel ne peut prononcer d'injonction, mais il peut ordonner l'exécution en nature d'une obligation

par Karim Renno
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt s.e.n.c.r.l./s.r.l.

La popularité grandissante de l'arbitrage conventionnel a amené bien des débats au cours des dernières années. Parmi ceux-ci, l'épineuse question de savoir si un arbitre a le pouvoir d'émettre des ordonnances d'injonction. À cet égard, la décision de la Cour supérieure dans Canadian Royalties Inc. c. Nearctic Nickel Mines Inc. (2010 QCCS 4600) vaut certainement qu'on y porte attention.
 

Dans cette affaire, la Cour était saisie d'une requête en homologation d'une sentence arbitrale. Cette requête était contestée pour plusieurs motifs. Celui qui nous intéresse aujourd'hui particulièrement voulait que l'arbitre, en ordonnant la passation d'un titre, outrepassait ses pouvoirs puisqu'il n'était pas habilité à rendre des ordonnances d'exécution en nature.
 
L'Honorable juge William Fraiberg rappelle d'abord le principe voulant qu'un arbitre ne peut prononcer d'injonction:
[148] In maintaining the Superior Court judgment, the Court of Appeal held:
"Les parties reconnaissent à bon droit que le juge de la Cour supérieure était justifié d'annuler les dernières conclusions de la sentence arbitrale qui étaient de la nature d'ordonnances d'injonction.
[149] This decision is consistent with the Supreme Court judgment in Société de la Place des Arts de Montréal v. A.I.E.S.T., local de scène no. 56 wherein Gonthier J. held that in Quebec the Superior Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction to grant injunctions, to the point where it can rule de novo whether or not a defendant's conduct contravenes the legal provision giving rise to the demand for the injunction, even when an otherwise competent tribunal has already ruled that it does and imposed a fine as a result:
[...]
[150] It is noteworthy that this opinion was endorsed by Lebel J., who in the previous year had written the opinion in the case of Desputeaux v. Éditions Chouette (1987) inc., favouring a narrow interpretation of public order as a ground of invalidity of arbitral awards under art. 946.5 C.C.P., and his opinion was endorsed by Gonthier J. Lebel J. held:
[...]
[151] The Court concludes from these cases that in Quebec arbitral autonomy does not go so far as to permit arbitral orders of injunction to the exclusion of the courts. By virtue of art. 940.2 C.C.P., to be executory, an arbitral award must be homologated by the court that would be competent to decide the question in dispute if it were litigated, but this is under reserve of matters within the exclusive competence of the Superior Court.
[152] Since it alone is empowered to issue injunctions by the legislator and the award as homologated is executory, as a judgment of the court, it is hard to believe that the legislator would have wanted to make it a mere rubber stamp for injunctions ordered by privately constituted tribunals.
[153] Moreover, in arbitration there would be no point in splitting off injunctions from questions of breach of contract, requiring the Superior Court to have the last word on the appropriateness of the former as a remedy while reserving the determination of the latter to the arbitral tribunal.
[154] The process would be long, cumbersome, expensive and uncertain if the parties were obliged to submit a claim for injunction to arbitration because of a generally worded arbitration agreement, knowing that if the injunction were granted it might not be homologated by the Superior Court, which might take a different view.
[155] It is more consistent with legislative intent to have the Superior Court decide the entire case without prior resort to arbitration whenever the remedy sought is an injunction.
[156] In the absence of express legislative intent to the contrary, it is also reasonable for the Superior Court to have the last word over a remedy which, besides being potentially punitive, could also involve it in long-term supervision of compliance with an order it did not make and might not have chosen to make.
Cependant, nous enseigne le juge Fraiberg, ce ne sont pas toutes les ordonnances d'exécution en nature qui sont assimilables à des ordonnances d'injonction. Autrement, les arbitres auraient trop souvent les mains liées et ne pourraient proprement exercer leurs pouvoirs:
[157] That said, it cannot be concluded that Raoul Grenier is authority for Ungava's position that all orders of specific performance are beyond the competence of Quebec arbitrators. In that case, it was because the orders for specific performance were in reality mandatory injunctions that they could not be homologated, not because they were orders of specific performance.
[158] All orders to perform contractual obligations are, taken in a large sense, orders of specific performance, but not all such orders are injunctions.
[159] Generally speaking, orders are not injunctive if they do not require the exercise of judicial discretion to make them and further judicial intervention to enforce them thereafter. They depend on conclusions of law and fact that automatically entail access to execution rather than punishment of the debtor in order to attain compliance.
[160] For example, judicial orders to pay money, to vacate property or surrender its possession may be enforced by writs of execution, eviction or possession. A judgment annulling a contract normally entails each of the parties returning to the other what they received from each other as a consequence of entering the contract (art. 1606 C.C.Q.).
[161] Some orders of specific performance are enforced by authorizing the creditor to perform the contractual obligation in the place of the debtor and at his expense in lieu of ordering the debtor to do so by injunction.
[162] And an obligation to enter into a deed of sale is ultimately enforced, not by an injunction, but by a judgment that avails in its place (art. 1712 C.C.Q.). No one would consider an action en passation de titre as an application for an injunction even though the court normally orders the defaulting party to the promise of sale to sign the deed within a certain delay.
[163] In the event of continued default, it is not necessary or even possible to punish the defaulter by fine or imprisonment. That is the essential difference between orders to perform obligations that are injunctions – which only the Superior Court is empowered to issue - and those that are not.
Ainsi, le juge Fraiberg confirme le pouvoir d'un arbitre de rendre des ordonnances d'exécution en nature.

Référence: [2010] ABD 123

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