• St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company c Valley, 2015 QCCQ 1891
  • January 8, 2016 | Authors: Dionysios Rossi; Graham Walker
  • Law Firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP - Vancouver Office
  • In Canadian maritime law, some provincial superior courts and the Federal Court have concurrent jurisdiction. This case is an example of how the courts may tackle the question of which court has jurisdiction over a particular dispute.

    The owner of a yacht (the "insured") had engaged the services of the defendant to transport the yacht from Québec City, Québec to Willsboro Bay Marina, New York, by sailing the yacht to its destination. However, the yacht was grounded during the voyage and sustained damage. The plaintiff, St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company (the "insurer"), had fully indemnified the insured and commenced subrogation proceedings against the defendant.

    In the present application, the defendant asked the Court to dismiss the insurer's action on the basis that the Québec court lacked jurisdiction, as maritime law governs this type of dispute and excludes the application of the Code civil du Québec, RLRQ c C-1991 (the "QC Civil Code"). The Court disagreed, holding that neither section 22 of the Federal Courts Act nor the jurisprudence restricts jurisdiction over maritime law to the Federal Court, so the Québec superior courts have jurisdiction in admiralty. The Court went on to decide that the contract in question was not a contract of carriage within the meaning of Article 2030 of the QC Civil Code, but a service contract.

    Therefore, the Court dismissed the defendant's argument that the claim ought to be dismissed because no notice of claim was provided within 60 days of delivery (as required by Article 2050 of the Code civil du Québec), because this requirement only applies for actions against carriers. The Court noted in obiter that the notice is not required where, as in the present case, the carrier is the one who notifies the property owner about the damage.