Can a company invoke the Charter to avoid paying a fine?

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to look into a rather unusual case: can a company invoke the protection offered by the Charter against “cruel and unusual” punishments to challenge a salt penalty?
The country’s highest court said on Thursday morning that it would hear the case without explanation, as it always does.

It was the Attorney General of Quebec who asked that this case be heard by the Supreme Court.

He wants to overturn a decision of the Court of Appeal. It ruled last March that a private business could be the victim of “cruel and unusual treatment or punishment” and thus claim the protection afforded by section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. .

And what was the cruel treatment the company complained about?

To have to pay a lot of money, argued a numbered company that invoked this argument to not have to pay a fine of about $ 30,000.

This is the mandatory minimum fine under the Provincial Building Act for a company that acted as a construction contractor without holding the required license.

This decision of the Court of Appeal had the potential to open the door to challenge – by companies – many of the penalties provided by law.

It was the Association of Construction and Housing Professionals of Quebec (APCHQ) who had pleaded this case.

After its victory in the Court of Appeal, the APCHQ said it hoped that the judgment would encourage the government to review the fines in the field of construction, so that they could be fair and proportional, depending on the circumstances of each case.

The Court of Appeal had not decided whether the fine, in this company’s specific case, contravened section 12: instead, it had sent the file to a judge who had to decide whether it was the case.

The next step, however, is the Supreme Court. The date on which the parties will plead their arguments is not yet determined.

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