A Quebecer could bring a class action against the SAAQ

A Quebecer could bring a class action against the SAAQ

Richard-Nicolas Villeneuve challenges the entire evaluation process provided for by the Highway Safety Code.

A Quebecer who has been refused a driver's license after being found guilty of impaired driving will be able to request authorization to bring a class action against the Société de l'assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ).

In a decision handed down Thursday, the Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal of the SAAQ which was trying to invalidate a decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal. As usual, the highest court in the land did not specify the reasons for its decision.

The story begins in October 2016, when Richard-Nicolas Villeneuve was arrested by the police when his blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. His license is immediately suspended.

A few months later, the man submits to a summary risk assessment to try to obtain a driver's license again, but the report of an assessor leads the SAAQ to refuse him. Instead, she suggests that he submit to a full impaired driving recidivism risk assessment.

The man then requests a review of the decision made by the SAAQ. It will be rejected on the grounds that the protocol on which the assessment is based has been scientifically validated.

Dissatisfied, Mr. Villeneuve filed a challenge before the Tribunal administratif du Québec (TAQ) and submitted to a complete assessment of the risk of recidivism in order to obtain a new permit.

Two days later, he filed an application for authorization to institute a class action against the SAAQ seeking compensation for the consequences incurred by drivers who had been refused a driver's license at the following an impaired driving arrest with adverse risk assessments.

Mr. Villeneuve then challenged the entire evaluation process provided for by the Highway Safety Code. According to him, it is discriminatory and in particular violates the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In particular, he is claiming compensation of nearly $8,800, including $6,000 in loss of income, $2,000 in moral damages and $816.32 for the costs of the full assessment.

The SAAQ replies that the Superior Court does not have jurisdiction to hear Mr. Villeneuve's request, considering that this falls exclusively to the Administrative Tribunal of Quebec. The Superior Court, too, ruled that this was not within its jurisdiction.

In the Court of Appeal, the court held that the trial judge had to declare that the Superior Court was the right forum since the class action is not aimed at the issuance of a permit to Mr. Villeneuve and that he seeks to obtain damages by way of reparation. /p>

The period that would be covered by Mr. Villeneuve's possible class action would be from January 1, 2017 until the date of the authorization. Another similar case, that of Daniel Lepage, is also before the courts. It covers the period from January 27, 2011 through December 31, 2016.

The Canadian Press was unable to obtain comment from counsel. of Mr. Villeneuve.

The SAAQ has indicated that it takes note of the judgment and that the case will follow its course.

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