On February 12, 2012, in a long-awaited ruling on Quebec consumer law, the Supreme Court of Canada clarified several questions that have been the subject of doctrinal and jurisprudential debate. For example, the Court clearly established that:
- Commercial advertising must be assessed from the perspective of a “credulous and inexperienced” consumer, rather than from that of a consumer with an “average level of intelligence, scepticism and curiosity”.
- That civil proceedings cannot be instituted under Section 272 of the Consumer Protection Act(“CPA”), if a person has merely seen a misleading advertisement. Rather, the person must have also entered into a consumer contract in relation to the advertisement.
- That a consumer exercising the recourse provided for under Section 272 CPA has the choice of claiming punitive damages only. This head of damages is autonomous and distinct and may be awarded by the court even in the absence of an award of compensatory damages.
This bulletin aims to expose the primary conclusions of this landmark ruling, which we believe will now be relevant in all future Quebec consumer law disputes, and which are therefore important to grasp as soon as possible.