The Supreme Court of Canada released judgment this week in a trilogy of cases of interest to Canadian businesses and professions.
In Bank of Montreal v. Marcotte, 2014 SCC 55, Amex Bank of Canada v. Adams, 2014 SCC 56 and Marcotte v. Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, 2014 SCC 57, the Court upheld class action trial judgments against several financial institutions in which consumers recovered conversion charges that the defendants imposed upon credit card purchases made in foreign currencies. The defendants were found not to have complied with certain disclosure required in the Quebec Consumer Protection Act (the “CPA”) with respect to conversion charges assessed by them. The Court rejected arguments that the relevant CPA provisions were constitutionally inapplicable or inoperative under the doctrines of interjurisdictional immunity and paramountcy, based on their impairment of the federal banking power or conflict with the Bank Act. As well, the Court clarified that a class action may be authorized even where the representative plaintiff does not have a direct cause of action against each named defendant, so long as he or she is an adequate representative of the class and the actions against each defendant involve identical, similar or related questions of fact. The Court also addressed the threshold for awarding punitive damages in the class actions context.