jeudi 24 octobre 2013

Attention aux délais d'appel puisque toutes les formalités de signification doivent être satisfaites dans les 30 jours

par Karim Renno
Irving Mitchell Kalichman s.e.n.c.r.l.

Merci à mon collègue Mathieu Bouchard d'avoir attiré mon attention sur cette décision récente qui a un impact pratique important. En effet, depuis plusieurs années le greffe de la Cour d'appel de Montréal (je ne connais pas la pratique du greffe de Québec), accepte le dépôt de procédures d'appel déposées le 30e et dernier jour dans la mesure où l'on produit le lendemain la preuve de signification faite la veille. La preuve de signification est donc déposée après l'expiration du délai d'appel. Or, dans Droit de la famille - 132870 (2013 QCCA 1797), l'Honorable juge Allan R. Hilton vient de mettre un terme à cette pratique, indiquant qu'elle ne respecte pas les dispositions législatives pertinentes.
 

Dans cette affaire, le Requérant recherche la permission d'en appeler de deux ordonnances intérimaires rendues dans un dossier de divorce. La question qui nous intéresse aujourd'hui est le respect par le Requérant du délai de rigueur pour demander la permission d'en appeler. En effet, la requête pour permission a été déposée le 30e jour suite au jugement, mais les preuves de signification ont été déposées seulement le lendemain.
 
Bien que le greffe de la Cour a accepté ce procédé, le juge Hilton indique que c'est à tort puisque le législateur a clairement stipulé que toutes les formalités nécessaires à la demande de permission devaient être accomplies dans les 30 jours:
[7]           The oral judgment of the Superior Court was rendered on the afternoon of July 30, 2013 in the presence of counsel, which means that the delay to serve and file the motion for leave to appeal expired at 4:30pm on August 29 in accordance with the third paragraph of article 494 C.C.P. 
[8]           The petitioner’s bailiff prepared a minute that indicates that the original and copy of the motion for leave to appeal were filed at 4:15pm on August 29 with the Court’s Registry. The judicial stamp affixed by the official in the Court’s Registry indicates, however, that only the original of the motion was filed at 4:19pm that day. 
[9]           According to the returns of service of the bailiff, counsel for the respondent and the intervenants were subsequently served with the motion for leave to appeal on the late afternoon of August 29, at 5:05pm and 5:15pm respectively. To complete the portrait, the judicial stamp on the copy of the motion indicates it was filed at the Registry at 2:44pm on August 30, that is, after the expiry of the 30-day time limit from July 30. Moreover, the computerized court docket for this file indicates that it was opened on August 30. 
[...] 
[12]        My inquiries with the jurists at the Court’s Registry revealed that, subject to what appears in the next sentence, it always requires proof of service of a proceeding before accepting it for filing. Nevertheless, in accordance with a practice that has apparently existed for several years, the Registry accepts the filing of the original of a proceeding without it having been yet served when the time limit for serving and filing would expire that day, on the condition that proof of service is produced the next day showing that the proceeding was served prior to the expiry of the time limit. Apparently, this practice was developed to accommodate the possibility of valid service on the date of expiry in circumstances where the service can still be legally made after 4:30pm, which is the time the Registry closes in accordance with section 2 of the Rules of Practice of the Court of Appeal in Civil Matters. 
[13]        Although I certainly cannot speak for my colleagues on the Court, I was unaware of this practice despite having been a judge of this Court for in excess of 10 years. 
[14]        Given the sequence of events that I have described in paragraphs [7] to [9] above, that is apparently what happened in this case. Unfortunately for the petitioner, however, the Registry’s practice to waive the requirement of the Code of Civil Procedure that a motion for leave to appeal must be served and filed within 30 days of the judgment from which leave is sought when the time limit to do so expires that day is inconsistent with the requirements the legislature has imposed. In this respect, I refer to an extract from the first paragraph of article 78 C.C.P. to the following effect:
 
 
[15]        I frankly doubt that even the Court could adopt a rule of practice to the same effect as the Registry’s practice, let alone the Registry itself, since to do so is in conflict with what the Code of Civil Procedure provides. Accordingly, the Registry must henceforth apply the requirements for the service and filing of written proceedings in compliance with the requirements of article 78 C.C.P. and, where it is sought to file motions for leave to appeal, with the third paragraph of article 494 C.C.P. 
[16]        I have no doubt that the Registry established this practice in good faith with a view to ensuring that a party would not lose its rights to seek leave to appeal. That being said, respondents to motions for leave to appeal also have rights, and they include the right to the respect of the process by which a court file is opened in this Court. The mere existence of this practice is precisely what has given rise to the unfortunate belief that the petitioner’s proceedings were validly served and filed when in fact they were not. 
[17]        I would also add that a party who waits until the late afternoon of the last day to serve and file a motion for leave to appeal is flirting with danger, knowing that the Registry closes at 4:30pm. Moreover, a party such as the petitioner in this case still has the right to apply for leave to appeal beyond the 30-day time limit pursuant to subsection 21(4) of the Divorce Act. I appreciate that there is now some urgency to do so given that the order of the motions judge requires her to vacate the premises in question in less than two weeks by October 31. Here again, however, that is a function of the leave application not having been asserted earlier, instead of in extremis.
Voilà un jugement important en matière procédurale.

Le texte intégral du jugement est disponible ici: http://bit.ly/1dlb57t

Référence neutre: [2013] ABD 425

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