The Superior Court recently reminded us of an important principle in its ruling in Boisvert v. Construction Normand Guimont inc.: the moment when knowledge of a defect revealed in an expert’s report is acquired does not necessarily constitute the starting point of extinctive prescription.

Plaintiff took action in December 2011 against his contractors alleging faulty execution of the construction contracts after water infiltrations had occurred in his residence in 2008 and 2009.

The expert’s report ordered by plaintiff and dated March 28, 2012 revealed that the residence’s architectural de- sign contained defects which would be the cause of the water infiltrations.

In light of this information, plaintiff fi- led on April 13, 2013 an amended in- troductory motion adding, as defen- dants, the architect firms who drew the plans.

However, said defendants sought dis- missal of the action taken against them by pleading extinctive prescription. More than three years had gone by since the water infiltrations had oc- curred and the moment defendants were brought into the action.

It was admitted by all parties that since there was no solidarity between all de- fendants, the action served to the ini- tial defendants had not interrupted the prescription against the architects. However, plaintiff claimed that the de- lay for prescription should be com- puted from the moment when he ac- quired knowledge of the content of the expert’s report which revealed the cause of the damages.

In accordance with the interpretation of 2926 CCQ favored by the Court of Appeal in Sicé v. Langlois, the Hono- rable Justice Suzanne Ouellet states that the delay for prescription starts running only when the damage appears and all legal requirements to exercice the right of action are met.

In the present matter, the water infiltra- tions occurred until 2009. The Court was of the opinion that the fact that an ex- pert’s report dated March 2012 con- firmed the cause of these water infiltra- tions made no difference:

[13] With regard to prescription, the appearance of the damage and the knowledge of its cause should not be confused. In the same way, prescrip- tion will not be validly suspended simply because the party has not yet determined the precise extent of the damages that can be claimed. [Our translation]

The Court came to the conclusion that allowing prescription to be suspended until all experts' reports are complete would be tantamount to encouraging laxity in the conduct of proceedings, in contradiction with the very essence of the concept of extinctive prescription.