Claim for compensatory damages remained purely hypothetical

Civil Practice and Procedure - Class and representative proceedings - Representative or class proceedings under class proceedings legislation

Representative of Quebec residents brought motion seeking leave to institute class action against car manufacturer after it was revealed that it had intentionally implemented system designed to produce misleading results during laboratory emissions testing. Certification judge granted motion in part, holding that representative must show that claims have chance of success and disclose colour of right. Certification judge held that there was no clear evidence showing that any citizen residing in Quebec had suffered personal harm. Hence, claim for compensatory damages remained purely hypothetical and did not justify long and expensive trial. However, certification judge held that allegations seeking punitive damages disclosed colour of right and met required threshold criteria . Certification judge granted leave to institute class action against car manufacturer for sole purpose of claiming punitive damages. Car manufacturer brought motion seeking leave to appeal . Court of Appeal judge dismissed motion. According to Court of Appeal judge, leave to appeal in such case will only be granted if certification judge made determinative error. Court of Appeal judge found that certification judge correctly applied relevant criteria and took into consideration manufacturer’s argument. Car manufacturer appealed further. Appeal dismissed. Court of Appeal judge did not err in exercising her discretion. Therefore, appeal was dismissed with costs.

Volkswagen Group Canada Inc. c. Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (2019), 2019 CarswellQue 9793, 2019 CarswellQue 9794, 2019 SCC 53, 2019 CSC 53, Wagner C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Côté J., Brown J., Rowe J., Martin J., and Kasirer J. (S.C.C.); affirmed (2018), 2018 CarswellQue 5117, 2018 QCCA 1034, Bélanger J.C.A. (C.A. Que.).

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