mercredi 31 août 2016

Le cadre qui doit généralement guider l'analyse de la crédibilité des témoins dans le cadre d'un litige civil

par Karim Renno
Renno Vathilakis Inc.

L'appréciation de la crédibilité des témoins est au coeur du rôle du juge de première instance dans le cadre d'un procès. J'attire votre attention aujourd'hui sur l'exposé très intéressant de l'Honorable juge Mark G. Peacock dans l'affaire Marchands en gros de fruits Canadawide inc. c. 9005-8397 Québec inc. (AMR Fruiterie) (2016 QCCS 4101) sur les méthodes que les tribunaux doivent utiliser pour juger de la crédibilité des témoins, et ce particulièrement quand leur témoignage contient des contradictions.



Pour nos fins, la trame factuelle importe peu. Notons simplement qu'il s'agissait d'une action en dommages dans laquelle le juge Peacock devait juger de la crédibilité du témoignage de plusieurs personnes.

C'est dans ce contexte que le juge Peacock fait la revue des principes applicables:
[95] To guide its analysis in these difficult waters, the Court relies on principles established by leading cases.

[96] Firstly, even though some of the actions testified to by the Employee may fit the category of “criminal or morally blameworthy conduct”, the standard of proof to be applied throughout in this case is the civil burden on the balance of probabilities.

[97] Secondly, it is open to the trial judge to believe all, some, or none of any particular witness’s evidence and to attribute a different weight to different parts of that witness’s evidence.

[98] Thirdly, the Court relies on the oft-cited statement of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Faryna v Chorny:
The credibility of an interested witness, particularly in cases of conflict of evidence, cannot be gauged solely by the test of whether the personal demeanour of the particular witness carried conviction of the truth. The test must reasonably subject his story to an examination of its consistency with the probabilities that surround the currently existing conditions. In short, the real test of the truth of the story of a witness in such a case must be its harmony with the preponderance of the probabilities which a practical and informed person would readily recognize as reasonable in that place and in those conditions. Only thus can a Court satisfactorily appraise the testimony of quick-minded, experienced and confident witnesses, and of those shrewd persons adept in the half-lie and of long and successful experience in combining skilful exaggeration with partial suppression of the truth. Again a witness may testify what he sincerely believes to be true, but he may be quite honestly mistaken. For a trial Judge to say "I believe him because I judge him to be telling the truth", is to come to a conclusion on consideration of only half the problem. In truth it may easily be self-direction of a dangerous kind.

The trial Judge ought to go further and say that evidence of the witness he believes is in accordance with the preponderance of probabilities in the case and, if his view is to command confidence, also state his reasons for that conclusion. The law does not clothe the trial Judge with a divine insight into the hearts and minds of the witnesses. And a Court of Appeal must be satisfied that the trial Judge's finding of credibility is based not on one element only to the exclusion of others, but is based on all the elements by which it can he tested in the particular case.

(this Court’s emphasis)
[99] Finally, the trial judge must give sufficient reasons to explain how they come to determinations of facts when there are conflicts in the evidence on important matters. As the Supreme Court of Canada states: “The path taken by the trial judge must be clear from the reasons read in the context of the trial. But it is not necessary that the judge describe every landmark along the way”.

[100] Our Court of Appeal has discussed on numerous occasions the difficulty in dealing with a witness who has given multiple contradictory versions of events.

[101] In the decision of Solomon v. Quebec, the Court of Appeal notes that there is a general rule that the earliest statement given is likely the most truthful:
Je rappelle à ce sujet que, règle générale, la version offerte de façon très contemporaine à la survenance des faits jouit d’une sorte de présomption de fiabilité parce que donnée à un moment où la mémoire est la plus fraîche. Le témoin qui entend répudier cette version tout en préservant sa crédibilité doit en principe expliquer de façon satisfaisante la cause de l’erreur qu’il a commise dans la version initiale.
[102] As the Court of Appeal notes, the fact of there being multiple versions with contrary evidence means that at least for one or more of those versions, the witness “a proposé une version non fiable”.

[103] In the Court of Appeal judgment of Pouliot v. Promutuelle de Montmagny, a witness made an earlier statement, did confirm the statement later but then changed a material element of the statement at trial without having earlier corrected the error or explained how or why that error was made. In its reliance on the first statement made, the Court of Appeal remarked upon the importance of a witness who has made an error in an earlier statement correcting that error at the earliest opportunity.

[104] The Court refers also to the Court of Appeal decision of Nikoforos v. Paloukis in which the Court of Appeal emphasized the particular care that must be taken in evaluating a witness’s testimony that has contradictions:
Mais si un témoin se contredit lui-même, que la contradiction porte sur un point déterminant, que son témoignage est contredit par d'autres éléments de preuve et que, à partir de ces autres éléments de preuve, il appert que le témoin a intentionnellement menti, le reste de son témoignage doit être étudié avec circonspection, d'autant plus si ce reste du témoignage a une plausibilité douteuse.
[105] Finally, the Court notes that the term “credibility” refers to a person’s interest in telling the truth while the term “reliability” refers to whether the witness is actually telling the truth. A classic example is that of an individual who is honestly mistaken when they give their evidence. The person may well be credible, but their evidence is not reliable.
Référence : [2016] ABD 347

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire

Notre équipe vous encourage fortement à partager avec nous et nos lecteurs vos commentaires et impressions afin d'alimenter les discussions à propos de nos billets. Cependant, afin d'éviter les abus et les dérapages, veuillez noter que tout commentaire devra être approuvé par un modérateur avant d'être publié et que nous conservons l'entière discrétion de ne pas publier tout commentaire jugé inapproprié.