According to a recent Québec Superior Court decision, Facebook users are currently precluded from filing suit in Québec against the social media giant.  

On April 1, 2011, the Québec Superior Court in St-Arnaud v. Facebook [2011 QCCS 1506] dismissed Petitioner St-Arnaud’s motion to authorize the bringing of a class action against Facebook in the name of all physical persons in the Province of Québec who were allegedly subject to misrepresentations, breach of privacy, invasion of privacy, or other wrongful practices with respect to the loss or unauthorized use of their personal information. In upholding the validity of the attornment clause found in Facebook’s Terms of Use, the Court determined that it lacked jurisdiction to hear any claim or dispute relating to Facebook.

Although Québec civil law prohibits and declares unenforceable in Québec any clause by which a consumer in an action involving a consumer contract waives the jurisdiction of Québec courts, the Court upheld the attornment clause on the basis that there was no “consumer contract “between Facebook and its users. Noting that a consumer contract is necessarily premised on payment and consideration, the Court opined that there was no “consideration” on the part of Facebook users since they do not, when joining or accessing the social network, undertake to pay Facebook, post information, promote Facebook or remain a user for a specific period of time. An appeal of the decision was filed on May 2, so the question remains open as to whether the Courts in Québec will ultimately conclude that Facebook is effectively immune from consumer class actions in that province. Stay tuned!