Gagnon – Quebec Court of Appeal allows class action to proceed against Amazon for “deceptively” collecting GST/QST on exempt product sales

The class-action plaintiffs sought damages equal to the GST and QST that had been erroneously charged to them on their purchases from the defendant (Amazon). The two year period for applying to the ARQ for a refund under ETA s. 261 (and under the Quebec equivalent) had expired. The plaintiffs alleged that the Amazon invoices were “deceptive,” and relied on s. 227.1 of the Consumer Protection Act (Quebec) (“CPA”), which provided:

No person may, by any means whatever, make false or misleading representations concerning the existence, charge, amount or rate of duties payable under a federal or provincial statute.

Marcotte JCA accepted that the Quebec Superior Court would have had no jurisdiction to consider this claim if it was merely “a disguised attempt to receive a tax refund to which the [class action] members no longer have a right.” However, before allowing the claim to proceed, she stated:

[T]o the extent that the alleged failure relates to a deceptive invoicing practice contrary to the CPA, and not simply to the collection of taxes on exempt products, I consider that the Superior Court remained competent to be seized of such action.

It is unclear what it was about Amazon’s tax-related disclosure on its invoices for exempt products that was alleged to be “deceptive” [“trompeuse”].

Neal Armstrong. Summary of Gagnon v. Inc., 2019 QCCA 1166 under ETA s. 261.