Court deems COVID-19 measures a “misfortune”

COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc on people’s lives.

But it’s heartwarming to see that the courts are taking into account hardship.

In a brief bankruptcy ruling in Syndic de Deutsch, 2022 QCCS 222, Quebec Superior Court held that:

[14] There is no doubt that the measures put in place by the federal and provincial governments are a “misfortune” (“un malheur”) and the Court must consider even sua sponte the application of Article 175 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act for bankruptcies filed after March 2020.

[15] In this particular case, the requirements of Article 175 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act are not met however I consider the economical context.

[16] Neither the Superintendent of Bankruptcy nor any creditors have opposed the discharge of the Bankrupt.

[14] The bankruptcy and Insolvency Act’s objective is the social and economical rehabilitation of an honest but unlucky debtor and I hereby grant Ms. Irit Deutsch an Absolute Discharge from her bankruptcy. (my emphasis).

Anti-vaxxer mom loses bid to prevent her kids from being vaccinated

An anti-vaxxer mother who believes that the COVID-19 vaccine may contain electronic chips, heavy metals and aborted fetal cells lost her bid to prevent her two children from being vaccinated.

In the latest of a growing number of COVID-related cases dealt by the courts, Quebec Superior Court Justice Steve Reimnitz withdrew the woman’s parental authority in health matters of her nine and fourteen-year old kids. Continue reading “Anti-vaxxer mom loses bid to prevent her kids from being vaccinated”

Parent loses child custody during COVID-19

Non-respect of public health measures during a pandemic may be considered to be “reprehensible, even harmful, conduct to the development of a child,” held Quebec Superior Court Justice Claude Villeneuve in a child custody case.

He added: “Even if freedom of expression is a recognized right, it does not go so far as to permit an adult to denigrate and discredit, in the presence of a minor, citizens who respect rules enacted by the public health authorities in a pandemic linked to COVID-19.” Justice Villeneuve added that the parent’s message to his child is that it’s not important to respect the law nor the health and security of others, “which leads the Court to put into question the parental capacities… and as a result, the custody of the child.”  Here is the decision.

Paying rent during COVID-19

Paying rent during COVID-19

The obligation to pay rent during the pandemic is an issue the courts are grappling with. Quebec Superior Court Justice Peter Kalichman acknowledged that Quebec retailer Groupe Dynamite’s  ability to use certain leased premises to operate its stores was “severely limited by the Covid Restrictions.”

However, Justice Kalichman held that “where leased premises are occupied by a debtor and cannot be leased to anyone else, the landlord is not prevented from demanding immediate payment of rent regardless of whether or not the debtor is carrying on business.”

Or as law firm McCarthy Tétrault points out, the debtor is not relieved of the obligation to pay post-filing rent when it is asserting a right to sole possession of the premises and has not disclaimed the lease.

Hasidic community wins partial court victory

Hasidic community wins partial court victory

The Hasidic Jewish Council of Quebec won a partial legal battle after Quebec Superior Court decided that the provincial government’s order that a maximum of 10 people be allowed in a place of worship applies to each room within a building that has independent access to the street, and not just to the building in its entirety.

Quebec Superior Justice Chantal Masse, who did not weigh in on the constitutionality of the public health measures, left the door for the Quebec government to adjust the rules in the future.

Here’s a copy of the ruling, and here’s a story I wrote about the constitutional questions that have surfaced over the curfew imposed by the Quebec government.

Legal questions surface around Quebec’s curfew

A province-wide four-week curfew instituted by the Quebec government to stem COVID-19 infection rates and to serve as an “electroshock therapy” to deter people who have been flouting public health measures was launched without providing any grounds based on evidence that justifies the breaches of the Canadian and Quebec Charter, according to legal experts.

Continue reading “Legal questions surface around Quebec’s curfew”

Little awareness by judges over heightened risks of domestic violence during pandemic, asserts study

Canadian judges have demonstrated very little awareness over the heightened risks of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation that should prompt judges to attend comprehensive legal training over what the United Nations has described as the “shadow pandemic,” according to human rights and legal aid experts.

Continue reading “Little awareness by judges over heightened risks of domestic violence during pandemic, asserts study”

Investors keeping close tabs on Covid public interest measures

Exceptional circumstances demand exceptional responses. States around the world have taken extraordinary, wide-ranging emergency measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus and address the severe economic and financial fallout triggered by the pandemic, and business is keeping a watchful eye. Investors hard hit by the public interest interventions may be looking to recoup their losses by turning to investor-state arbitration at a time when there is a growing chorus calling for the suspension of lawsuits over Covid-related government actions.

Continue reading “Investors keeping close tabs on Covid public interest measures”

Commercial landlord not entitled to rent due to force majeure, rules Quebec court

In one of the first Covid-19 related lawsuits to surface, a Quebec court held that a commercial landlord was not entitled to collect rent from its tenant because a Quebec government decree that suspended non-essential business activities for three months to stem the flow of the Covid-19 pandemic constitutes force majeure.

The closely watched case, the only one so far in Quebec that has been decided on the merits, is expected to have important ramifications for landlords and tenants, underlines the importance of carefully drafting force majeure clauses, and highlights the weight the courts will give to the notion of peaceable enjoyment, according to legal observers.

Continue reading “Commercial landlord not entitled to rent due to force majeure, rules Quebec court”