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New Class Action Dismissed at the Authorization Stage

2018-06-09

Woods has once again succeeded in having an Application for Authorization to Institute a Class Action brought against its client Videotron G.P., as well as other telecommunications companies and online service providers, dismissed.

The Plaintiff took issue with the fact that the Defendants required consumers to whom they provided services or goods free of charge or at a reduced price during a set period to send a notice indicating that they did not wish to continue the service or receive the goods at the regular price, which was automatically charged after the fixed period. The Plaintiff alleged that this practice was prohibited by section 230 c) of the Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits phishing.

In the judgment rendered on May 14, 2018, the Honourable Stéphane Sansfaçon, J.S.C., dismissed the class action and upheld the main argument presented by our firm that the Defendants’ practices do not contravene section 230 c), which seeks to prohibit practices of a completely different nature from those engaged in by the Defendants.

The judge concluded that this section instead prohibits the practice whereby a consumer agrees to receive a service from a merchant free of charge or at a low price for a fixed period of time, and is subsequently informed by the merchant that he must send a notice to the effect that he does not want this service, failing which he will continue to receive it at the regular price at the end of this fixed period. In those situations, the consumer has not given his consent to receiving the service at a higher price after the agreed period. He concludes that none of the Defendants acted in this manner, since all the contracts filed in evidence clearly indicate that the consumer agreed, when the contract was concluded, to pay the regular price at the end of the fixed period.

The judge stated that the application of section 230 c) to the Defendants’ practices was clearly an issue of law central to the claim and that the question should be decided at the authorization stage, under article 575 2) of theCode of Civil Procedure, where the Plaintiff must show that her claim presents an “arguable case”.

Since section 230 c) does not prohibit the practices engaged in by the Defendants, the judge concluded that the action had no chance of success and that authorization should not be granted.