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Specific Performance in the Civil Law : Mediating Between Inconsistent Principles Inherited from a Roman-Canonical Tradition via the

French Astreinte and the Qubec Injunction

Member of the Bar of New York Pans



Traditionally, inexecution of a contractual obligation in the civil lau3 gives rise to an award in damges. This principle stems from Roman lau' of the classical period, which held to the m i m Nemo praecise cogi potest ad factum. In the post-classical period, however, the influence of ecclesiastical courts and the Christian notion of fidei laesio imposed itself on the classical pre-eminence of damages. Consequently, contractual obligations were often specijically enforced by secular courts based on the pacta sunt senianda doctrine of the canon law. Yet damages and specific performance, it is argued, are from the outset conceptually irreconcilable remedies. The full import of the nemo praecise principle prohibits al1 arts compeIIing the debtor to perfonn, whether such compulsion be physical or one of conscience. Pacta sunt servanda, on the other hand, maintains that that which has been promised should be performed, by force i f necessary. Zn France, the mechanism of astreinte -a comminatotyjne imposed on the debtor upon hisfailure to comply with a court order- is used to specifically

Traditionnellement en droit civil l'inexcution d'une obligation contractuelle se rsout en dommagesintrts. Ce principe a son origine dans le droit romain de l'poque classique qui s'allie l'adage Nemo praecise cogi potest ad factum. Cependant, danr la priode postclassique l'influence des cours ecclsiastiques et de la notion de fidei laesio s'est impose sur la primaut traditionnelle des dommages-intrts. Par consquent, les cours sculires, inspires par la rgle pacta sunt servanda du droit canonique, foraient souvent le dbiteur excuter son obligation contractuelle. L'auteur soumet que les dommagesintrts et l'excution en nature sont deux recours inconciliables au niveau conceptuel. Le plein effet du principe nemo praecise est d'interdire tout acte contraignant le dbiteur excuter son obligation, que cette contrainte soit morale ou physique. Pacta sunt servanda, par contre, soutient que ce qui est promis doit tre respect, mme s'il faut avoir recours la force. En France, l'astreinte -une sanction comminatoire impose au dbiteur

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enforce contractual obligations. This is done despite the fact that execution in kind is not expressly sanctioned by the Code civil. In Qubec, courts have been slow to acknowledge the suitability of specific performance in the context of contractual obligations. The source of such hesitation is codally rooted, as the Civil Code of Lower Canada, in terms similar to the French Code civil, enunciates the supremacy of damages at article 1065. But this situation will change with the arriva1 of the new Civil Code of Qubec. With this reorientation of the substantive law, Qubec courts will be procedurally better equipped to enforce specific performance than their French counterparts. In essence, via the injunction, a court may physically compel a recalcitrant debtor. Despite its common law origins, the author contendr that the injunction is not incompatible with the law of obligations in Qubec. Any perceived incompatibility in the realm of contract law arises from the initial irreconcilability of damages and specijc performance.

faute de se soumettre a une ordonnance judiciaire -est le moyen de forcer le dbiteur excuter son obligation. Elle est utilise a cette fin, mme si l'excution de l'obligation en nature n'est pas prcisment prvue dans le Code civil. Au Qubec, les cours se sonr attardes a admettre l'excution en nature dans le contexte des obligations contractuelles. La cause de cette hsitation trouve son fondement dans le Code,puisque le Code civil du BasCanada, en termes voisins du Code civil franais, exprime la suprmatie des dommages-intrts a l'article 1065. Or, cette situation changera avec la rorientation du droit substantif affecte par le nouveau Code civil du Qubec. Ce nouveau rgime lgal permettra aux tribunaux qubcois de sanctionner l'excution en nature d'une faon plus efficace que leurs homologues fianais. En effet,grce a l'injonction, un tribunal peut contraindre physiquement un dbiteur rcalcitrant. Quoique l'injonction trouve ses origines dans la common law l'auteur maintient qu'elle n'est pas incompatible avec le droit des obligations du Qubec. Toute incompatibilit perue dons le domaine contractuel provient du fait que les dommages-intrts et l'excution en nature sont de prime abord des recours inconciliables.



The Status of Specific Performance at Roman Law ...........................................


A. The Classical Period (27 B.C.-A.D. 234) .......................................................... 518 B. The PostClassical Penod (A.D. 235-A.D. 565) ............................................... 520 1. The Christian Rwts of Specific Performance............................................... 520



Performance in the Civii L v o


2. The Influence of Fidei Loesio on Roman Law ..........................................

C. Medieval Roman Law ......................................................................................... II.

52 1 523 524 524 525 527 528 529 529 532 533 535 535 536 538 540 540 543 544 548 552 553

...................................... A. Before Pothier .................................................................................................. B. Pothier's Formulation of Specific Perfonnance .................................................

n Specific Performance i France : Roman-Canonical Roou

III. Identification of the Problem : Damages and Specific Performance as Incompatible Remedies .................................................................................................................... IV. The French Position Before the Jurispmdential Development of Asrreinte: The Pre-Eminence of Damages ......................................................................................


The Biith of the hrreinre as a Mechanism for Specifically Enforcing Obligations To Do and Not To Do ............................................................................................ A. B. C. D. The Early Years: 1804 to 1959.......................................................................... The Purely Cornminatory Nature of the Asrreinte Recognized: 1959 to 1972 The Legislative Enactment of 1972 and Its Outcome..................................... The Asneinte's Domain of Application .......................................................... 1. Enforcing Judgments Ordcniip SpciI: l'cd(irmance. . . ............. . . ?. A,rrr!nre i n the Contexi of l'r<l\.iiionalR:lir.i The Pro<.i:dt,ri,Je Xfrr'

VI. Assessment of the Astreinte as a Mechanism for Enforcing Specific Perfonnance of Obligations To Do and Not To Do ........................................................................ VII. Amval of the Injunction in Qubec ........................................................................ A. The F i t Stage : 1667 to 1896....................................................................... B. The Second Stage: 1897 to 1965 ...................................................................... 1. The Injunction as a Means of Specifically Enforcing Obligations To Do and Not To Do ............................................................................................... C. The Third Stage : 1966 to the Present Day ..................................................... D. Change in the Horizon : n i e New Civil Code of Qubec ................................. Conclusion.......................................................................................................................

Some doctrinal wTiters have cnticized the procedure through which Qubec courts can sanction forced execution of a contractuai obligation - the injunction. They have argued that the injunction represents an anomaly in Qubec law stemming from the fact that it is a non-civilian procedure adopted from the English junsdiction of Equity as developed by the Court of Chancery in the fifteenth century. Such a direct transplant of a foreign legal doctrine, it has been suggested, offends both the structural and substantive coherence of Qubec pnvate law.' Professor Ghislain Mass states the problem in the following terms : "[ ...]
1. See G. MASSE, Kinjoncrion er le droitpriv qubcois. une &Ilionce. LL.M. Thesis, Universit de Montral. 1978; and Id.. "L'excution des obligations via l'astreinte franaise et l'injonction qubcoise", (1984) R. d u B. 659.


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l'injonction avait t conue pour s'intgrer dans un systme juridique totalement tranger aux structures du droit civil, et plus particuli2rement. la thorie gnrale des obligation^".^ Perhaps in the field of procedure such an analysis makes peifect sense in light of Mr. Justice Holmes' insightful remark that "the life of the law has not been logic : it has been e~perience".~ if this be the case, it should be possible But to explain through an histoncal study of a legal principle what logic itself cannot. There is, after all, a certain exegetical logic which is unique to history. Hence by endeavouring to do that which Gaius himself was renowned for doing - tracing things to their ongin -it may be possible to cast a new analytical framework from which to reevaluate the relationship between the injunction and specific performance in Qubec civil law. In more precise ternis, my objective will be threefold. Fust, to illustrate that the doctrine of specific performance was unknown to classical Roman law. Only after its contact with canon law did the civilian tradition become acquainted with the idea of execution in kiid as a recouse for breach of a contractual obligation. in light of this, specific performance should uot be seen as a genuinely civilian principle, but rather as a superimposed canonicai doctrine. Consequently, there arises a tension between two principles which are conceptually irreconcilable. On the one hand, the canonical influence of the civil law sanctifies a contractual promise and gives primacy to it$execution :pacta sunt s e ~ a n d aYet on the other .~ hand, the traditionai Roman law preference for damages is strongly voiced in the well-known maxim N e m praecise cogi potest ad factum. A mechanism is evidently needed to mediate between these opposing tendencies. The second part of this paper will examine one such solution : the French astreinte. in the thiid part we will tum to the ambivalent solution offered by Qubec law via the injunction. After reviewing the histoncal evolution of the injunctive procedure in Qubec, it will be argued that the English origins of the injunction are not the source of inconsistency in Qubec civil law, for the inconsistency underlies the very law itself as expressed in articles 1065-66 C.C.L.C. The injunction merely serves as a way of choosing behveen two contradictory p ~ c i p l e sAnd in so doing, it accentuates and . rearticulates the original problem. In this regard, the relevant provisions of the new Civil Code of Qubec will be examined, focusing on their capacity to resolve the existing quandary in the law.


Although it is not an undisputed fact, it can be stated with relative certainty that specific performance did not exist in Roman law during the classical p e n ~ d Sir Edward Fry has put it in these terms : .~
2. Id., "L'excution des obligations ...", p. 666. 3. O.W. HOLMB. The Cornman Law, Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1991, p. 1. 4. See M. TANCELIN, Des obligations, Montral, Wilson & Laileur Sorej Lte, 1984, pp. 363-64. 5. See W.W. BUCKLAND, Equify in Romn Law, London, University of London Press, 1911, p. 40: W.W. BUCKLANDA. D. McN~rn, & Roman Lmv and Common Law : Cornprison A in Outline, Cambridge, Cambridge University Ress. 1965, p. 412; and 1. P. DAWSON, "Specific Performance in France and Gemany". (1959) 57 Michigan L. Rev. 495, p. 496. For a conmaiy view see PnouDFooT, ''Sp%ific Performance in Roman Law", (1894) 15 Can. L. Times 257.

It is certaiii that the Roman Law gave title Io damages as the sole right resulting from default in performance, and did not enforce specific pwfomance directly or in any other marmer than by giving such right Io damages. If held to the maxim "Nemo potest praecise cogi ad fact~rn".~

A well respected scholar of Roman law has also observed that :

Lorsque le dbiteur ne s'excute p s volontairement, le moyen de convainte dont a dispose normalement le crbancier, c'est l'action en justice. Or, comme dans le droit classique, tontes les condamnations sont pcuniaires (Gaius, 4.48). L'action du crancier ne tend directement lui procurer la prestation due, que quand la dette est une dette d'argent. Dans tous les auires cas. l'action procurait uniquement au crancier le montant d'une condamnation pcuniaire, qui reprsentait pour lui l'quivalent de la prestation due, c'est--dire une indemnit ou des dommages et intrts.'

The authority for such a proposition lies in a passage of Gaius' Institutes :

The condemnation clause of al1 formulas has reference to the pecuniaty value of the propeny. herefore if we claim any coiporeal propetty, for instance, land, a slave, a garment, or gold or silver, the judge condemns the party against whom the suit was brought no1 Io deliver the very thing itself, as was formerly the practice,s but its estimated value in m ~ n e y . ~

If Gaius be taken as representing the orthodox position, there are nevertheless statements made by other jurists of the classical period which would appear to contradict him. Paulus, for instance, tells us that "If property which was sold is neither transferred nor delivered, the vendor can be compelled to transfer or deliver it".Io This would mean that an unexecuted contract of sale could be specifically enforced against the debtor manu militari. But the validity of such an interpretation has been met with much scepticism. Many scholars, in fact, have come to the conclusion that Paulus' opinion is an anomaly." Another jurist whose comments challenge the orhodox position is Ulpian. In reference to a promise made ta peIform funerai rites, Ulpian suggests
6. S u E. FRY, Treafise on the Specific Performance o Contracts, 2nd ed., London, A f Stevens & Sons, 1881, p. 3. 7. G. CORNIL, romain: Aperu historique sommaire, BnueUes, Imprimerie mdiDroit cale et scientifique. 1921, pp. 257-258. 8. The italics are mine. Gaius' reference to the availability of specific performance in fornier times rnust be read in its pmper historical wntext. It refen IO the siniation in preRepublican Rome, before there were state-organized courts. At the time of the Twelve Tables, for instance, the private self-help system of justice thal existed allowed "a debtor who defaulted in paying a mmey judgment [ta] be killed or enslaved by the judgment creditor. If the dispute related Io a s p i f i c asset detained by the defendant, the owner after establishing his ownership was itee to use force to seize it" (J.P. DAWSON, cit., note 5, p. 497). /oc. Institues, 4.48, S.P. SCOTT (nans.), New York, AMS Press Inc., 1973, vol. 1, 9. GAIUS,

IO. PAULUS. Opinions, 1.13.4, S.P. SCOTT, p. 264. id., 11. Buckland has suggested that Paulus' statement "must not be taken as meaning that, ? ad even in the classical law, there rnight b, a condem~tio ipsam rem" (Equiry in Romn Low, op. cit., note 5, p. 41). In Roman Lai and Common Low :A Cornparison in Oufline, he offen an explanation to justify such a conclusion :'There is a text of Paul which might mean that actual delivery might m classical Lw be compelled under a sale, but this would wnflict with al1 the other a evidence, and it probably means no more than that non-delivery or non-manripatio, as the case might be, would be gmund for an action, with no reference to the method of enforcement" (op. cil., note 5, p. 413).


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that an interdict could be issued by the praetor to force the debtor to fulfil his obligati~n.'~ this was an extra ordinem procedure, "chiefly employed in conBut nection with those maners more directly under the surveillance and protection of the public authority, [and] in comection with religious matters".13 The nonperformance of these obligations only resulted in a monetary condemnation pursuant to a regular trial, without any compulsion to p e ~ f o r m . 'Thus, even the ~ interdict, k i n g linle more than a hortatory instrument, was clearly subordinate to the principle of damages in the classical period.

235-A.D. 565)

In the post classical period there is clear evidence that specific perfomance had become an accepted recourse for a creditor of an obligation. There appear to be two reasnns for this development. Fust, the formulae or ordinaria judicia system of procedure came to be replaced by that of extraordinaria judicia.15 This meant that procedures such as the interdict, which had previously occupied the position of an extra ordinem remedy, began to represent the ordinaiy course of conduct in imperial courts. Secondly, as the influence of ecclesiastical courts grew,I6 the Christian ethos staned tn permeate the imperial administration of justice."

1. The Christian Roots of Specific Performance

The fust trace of the competence which ecclesiastical courts were to enjoy is found in Pliny's lener to Trajan in the second century. Inter alia, Pliiy writes that the Cbristians " M d ] themselves by a solemn oath [...] never to falsify theu word (ne fidem fallerent) [...]"18 Hence, the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical

12. Digesr,, S.P. Scorr, op. rit., note 9, vol. 4, p. 91 : Mela says that if a testator directs anyone to attend Io his funeral and he does not do so aller having meived mouey for that purpose, an action on the ground of h u d shall be granted agauist him; nevertheless, 1think, that he can be compelled to condun the funeral under the extraordiuary authority of the Raetor. 13. ORTOLAN, HisroryofRoman iaw, I.T. Pnicn~no D. NASMITH The & (tms.), London, Buenvorths, 1871, p. 689. 14. Dawson has observed: "In general, it seems quite clear that disobedience of an interdict led to a standard mai and maneyjudgmenr, despite the suong hguage in which the interdicts were often cast" (emphasis added) (lac. cil., note 5, p. 499). 15. Ortolan tells us that this change stand to take on a definitivecharacter in the third cent u y : "A constitution of this prince [Diocletian], dated A.D. 294, made that which had hitheno k e n extraordinaty, the o r d i i procedure throughout the provinces. At a later date this was extended Io the whole empire, the formula system thus gave way to the judicia Wrnordinaria" (op. rit., note 13, p. 691). "Lex 16. For a brief sketch of the situation in France, see Charles S. LOBINGER, Christiana". (1931-32) 20 Georgerown L J . 1 - 160, p. 8. Il is interesting to observe the judicial power possessed by the Church. "King Chlotaire I's edict of 560". Lohinger observes, "directed hishops, in the king's absence, Io reprove judges for unjust decisions and provision was made for correction upon further inquiry". 17. Christian couiu began Io f d y establish themselves in Europe after Constantine granted bishops judicial authority in their couns in 320. See A.A. TREVER, Hislory of Ancien1 Civilirarion: The Roman World, New York, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1939, p. 719. 18. Id., p. 716.


Specifi P e r f o r m c e in the Civil Lnw


courts was based on the idea of breach of faith @ e l a e ~ i o ) . 'Al1 promises made di ~ under a pledge of faith (fidei interpositio) were the subject-matter proper of an ecclesiastical court. "The man who pledges his faith", after all, as Pollock and Maitland explain, "pawns his Chnstianity, puts his hopes of salvation in the hand breach a promise made under oath was therefore to sin, and only of a n ~ t h e r " . ~ T o Church courts were comptent to adjudicate in matters of faith. The sanction meted out in such cases was no less than excommunication itself. This beiig the case, it would be ite to point out that specific performance enjoyed a primacy in canon law which it did not know in classical Roman law."

2. The Influence of Fidei Laesio on Roman Law

With the codification of Justinian, specific performance became part of the corpus of Roman law. But this new addition ta the classical position was not without its difficulties and ambiguities. In fact, it could be said that the tension between damages and specific performance which underlies the Corpus Juris Civilis is the same one which plagues the modem law of obligations in both France and Qubec. The influence of Christian thinking and the notion offidei laesio can be seen in many parts of the Corpus Juris. In the Code, for instance, Justinian wonders how a judge can be so stupid (stultum) as to accept the view of the classical jurists who suggest that the appropriate remedy in a case where a defendant is obliged to free a slave is one of damages.22 Actual performance was to be the standard in the future. Then we come to a text from Ulpian in the Digest which clearly illustrates to what extent the codifiers were conscious of the social ethos of the day. It relates to an action brought by an owner to recover property wronghilly detained. Ulpian had given the standard response of the classical junsts: the appropriate remedy was one for damages. But the compilers made an addition to Ulpian's text
19. For a more elaborate explanation of the notion offdei laesio see Sir E. FRY,"Specific Performance and Laesiofidei", (1889) 19 Lmv Qunnerly Rev. 235. 20. Su F. POLLOCKF.W. M A ~ A N D , Hislory o English Law, bpfore the Time o & The f f Edward I , vol. 1, 2nd ed., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1898, p. 128. 21. This was the case not only in continental Europe, but also in England. Before the COUR Chancery developed its domine of specificperfomance, the idea was alive and thriving of in the ecclesiastical courts of England h m the thllteenth to fifteenth centuries. See R.H. HELMHOU, Canon Law and the Lmv o England. London, The Hambledon Press, 1987, f o. 263 : The C h w h ' s general jurisdiction oves the sins of laymen gave rise to Xls litigation breach of a swom undettaking]. If was a sin to violate one's swom promise. And ;he canon law held that one cGld be obliged, under pain of exco&unication, to cmplete his promise. f In the Consistory Court of Hereford, for example, i is not unwmmon to fmd decisions such as the one following, rendered in 1497 : "And the judge ordered [the defendant] to observe this promise and faith before the aforesaid day under pain of major exwmmunication" (id., p. 281). 22. JUSTINIAN, Code, 7.4.17, S.P. SCOTI,op. cir., note 9, vol. 14, pp. 121-122: We, in disposing of this wntroversy, are surprised to leam that the judge, who had juisdiction of the case aforesaid. did not require the heu not to s m n d e r the slave but only to pay bis value, as such a fault offers an occasion for a dispute. Wherefore, if such a question should aise, We think that no judge would be so fwlish as to render a decision of this description.


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whose effect was to permit an owner to have property transferred to h i manu militari if it were still in the possession of the de fend an^^^ It is evident here that in an effort to accommodate the increasing preference for specific performance as fuelled by the Christian ethic, classical sources were discretely r n ~ d i f i e d . ~ ~ There remains, however, a certain reticence in Justinian's acceptance of specific performance. While willing to gant execution in kind with respect to certain ohligations, he remains steadfast in denying it for others. There is, for instance, a text from Celsus included in the Digest which makes little sense in light of classical a u t h o r i t i e ~ but which the compilers did not hesitate to cite. It states that ,~ obligations to do result in a judgement for damages in case of i n e ~ e c u t i o nFrom .~~ this distinction stem the basic limitations to specific performance canied down to this day. Further evidence of this distinction between obligations to give and obligations to do or not to do can be found in the Institutes of Justinian. At 3.15.7 we fmd the following statement:
Not only can property be the object of a stipulation, but deedr, also as where We stipulatefor some act to be performed or notperformed: and it is best tu add a penalty to stipulations of this kind, su that the amount involved in the stipulation may not he uncemin [...] therefore, where anyone stipulates for something to be done, a penalty ought to be added thus : "If it is not done in this way, do you agree to pay ten aurei hy way of penalt~".~'

Similarly, at 4.6.32 of the Institutes, the same point is articulated in more emphatic language :
A judge under al1 circumstances, as far as it is possible, should be careful tu reoder a judgment for a definitesum of money or for a certain article, although the amount involved in the action in [sic] ~ n d e t e m i n e d . ~ ~

23. Digest, 6.1.68, S.P. SCOTT, cit., note 9, vol. 3, pp. 218-219. 1reproduce the text op. in its entirety, placing parentheses around the interpolated passage. Where a peaon is ordered to surrender propetiy and does not ohey the order of coutt, stating that he is unahle to do so; [if, indeed. he h theproperty,possessron shall be forcibly transferredfromhim on application Io the judge, and the only decision IO be rendered in the matter is with reference Io the profis.] If, however, he is unahle to deliver the propeiry, and has acted fmudulently to avoid doing so, he must be ordered to pay as much as bis adversary swears to, without any limitation; but where he is unable to deliver the pmperty, a d did not act iraudun lently to avoid doing so, he can he o r d e d to pay no more than what it is worth; that is to Say, the amount of the interest of his adversary. i s is the general principle, and applies to al1 matters where property is to he delivered by order of c o u , whether interdicts or actions in rem or in personam are involved. IOC. 24. Sec 1.P. DAWSON, cil., note 5. 25. This is the case because there appears to have been no distinction between obligations to do or to give in the classicai period. Dawson wntes that "the general principle of praetorian procedure ai the time he [Celsus] wrote was that al1 obligations were translated into money judgments, whether they involved doing, not doing, surrendering, specific property or anything else" (loc. cil., note 5, p. 501). 26. Digest,, S.P. Scorr,op. cil., note 9, vol. 9, p. 232 : [...] If he fails to do this, judgment will be rendered against him for a certain sum of money, for the reason that he did not do what he promised, ashappens in al1kinds of obligations which relate to the performance of certain ans. 27. JUSTINIAN, Institules, 3.15.7, S.P. Scorr, op. cil., note 9, vol. 2, pp. 112-113. The emphasis is mine. 28. Id., 4.6.32, p. 154. Emphasis has been added.


Specifi Performance in rhe Civil Lmi


It is clear from these two passages that under the late Empire specific performance was awarded in cases involving an obligation to give or deliver a certain thing. But where the obligation was one to do or not to do, the creditor was limited to the classical Roman law remedy of da mage^.'^ The justification for this limitation, however, finds no clear enunciation in the Corpus Juris. It was only in the Middle Ages that the glossators grounded it in the maxim nemo praecise cogi potest ad factwn.

After a five hundred year dormancy, the study of Roman law was resumed in Bologna shorty before 1100. The Bolognese Renaissance was marked by a fervent effort to reestablish the hegemony of Roman law in Europe. For our purposes, the fourteenth century is significant. Doring this period, the glossators Baldus and Bartolus3' developed the authoritative distinction between obligations to give and obligations to do or not to do based on the nemo praecise mle. In the latter case, inexecution inevitably resulted in a judgment for damages because it a was considered that to hold othenvise would be to subject the debtor t a kind of servitude (quaedam species servi tu ri^).^' In this way, the influence of the canonical concept offidei laesio was limited to obligations to give by the glossators, for it was believed that this represented the orthodox position at Roman law. Despite the glossators' attempts to circumscnbe the availability of specific performance, the growing influence of canon law and ecclesiastical courts32 in Europe challenged the strict application of the nemopraecise dochine. Although the competence of Church courts was liiited to matters of faith, since breaching one's oath was considered a sin, contractual disputes were inevitably resolved in ecclesiastical tribunals. This meant that the usual remedy for a contractual breach, irrespective of the nature of the obligation.33became specific p e r f ~ r m a n c e One .~~
29. Georges Cornil perspicuously describes the situation in the post-classical penod in these t e m : Le jugement de condamnation n'a plus, dans la procdure extrao~dinaire, caracle tre d'une condamnation ncessairement pcuniaire. Toutes les fois que I'action, relle ou personnelle, tend i faire livrer, restituer ou reprsenter certam pecuniom vei rem, le juge prononce une c o n d e m ~ t i o ipsom rem (Justinien, a.529 : in C.7,45,14; 3.4.6532). Par contre la condamnation conserve le caractre de condemnatio pecunioria, lorsque l'action tend obtenir une omission ou i'accomplissement d'un fait aui ne wrte wint sur une cerra res (D.42.1.1361: - 1.3.15671 . . ~ , - -~- , "., " -.-(op. cil., note 7, p. 476). W. Banolus framed the ~rinciule clear terms. 1reoroduce it in the original Latin as c i t d in in RWRr & BOULANGER,a de k i r civil, t. 2, ~aris,'~ibrairie ~ r k gnrale de droit et de jurispmdence, 1957, no 1609,p. 587 :"Qunndoest in obligorione rem dari, quispraecise compellitur : in obligationibus autem facri quis non praecise compellirur, sed liberrm solvendo interesse". 31. Baldus, commentary on Code, 4.49, as cited in Dawson. /oc. cil.. note 5, p. 504. 32. As Pollock and Maitland point out, by the thirteenth century "[tlhe whole of western Europe was subject to the jurisdiction of one mbunal of last resort, the Roman curia" (op. cit., note 20, p. 114). 33. An ecclesiastical coun did not distinguish between obligations to give and obligations to do or not to do. O c a . - of faith had been made. the docmne of oacra swrt semando n e pledee auientuatd the consensual nature of a contract. ~onsequenhy, fonnalitiesobsuucted a credfew itor fmm obtaining actual performance of a promise made to him bv his debtor. 34. More sbcific authority for this'proposition can be Lund in the Decretals of Gregory IX.Under the title of De pactis, in Cbapter 3, we fmd a pronouncement to the effect that


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example will serve as a good illustration of the extent to which specic perfornance was the dominant remedy for inexecution of contractual obligations in ecclesiastical courts. If after entering into a maniage contract one of the parties refused to honour his or her promise, the party refusing "might be sentenced by the Ecclesiastical Court to celebrate the maniage in facie ecclesiae accordmgly, and for refusal to obey might be excommunicated and imprisoned [...] until he or she submirted to obey the O r d i ~ ~ a r y " . ~ ~

As Ortolan tells us, the fust traces of the works of Justinian in France are found in the early welfth century. More particularly, they appear in the canonical texts composed by St. Ives (1032-11151, bishop of Chartres (1092).36Prior to this, the pays de droit crit in the south followed pre-Justinian Roman law, based primarily on the Code of Theodosius II (A.D. 438). It is not an insignificant factor that the works of Justinian fust appear in France embedded within the corpus of canonical texts. Where Roman law and canon law are juxtaposed in ibis way, it is fair to assume that some cross-pollination occurred. Inevitably, as the legal history of France bean out, canonical notions relating to specific performance suongly influenced the civil law. Soon after the rediscovery of Roman law in Bologna by Imerius and the work of the early glossators, the Corpus Juris Civilis was introduced in France. It came to replace the pre-Justinian law of the Theodosian Code in the south. In the north, pays de coutume, Roman law also took on a significant role. It complemented local customary law by stepping in whenever the latter was deficiem3' Roman law, however, was not the only legal actor vying for control in France. Ecclesiastical courts were not a novel thing for the French, but by the twelfth cenhuy they exercised a wide jurisdictional competence. In the domain of contracts, as Professor Lemieux observed, they monopolized the field :
Coneacter, c'est promettre et engager sa foi. Les serments taient apposs par des notaires apostoliques aux contrats; les contrats tombaient donc dans la comptence ecclsiastique par connexit. Dans tout procs, il y a injustice, c'est--dire pch; le juge du pch est le juge ecclsiastiq~e.~~

whatever is promised should indeed be fulfilled : "Studioseagendum est u ea, qwiepromitfunfur. f opere compleanfur" (Decrefalsof Gregory IX,1.25.3). This canon is said to have been made in 600; it was published in 1234. See J. DooD, A Hisroq of Canon Lmv, Oxford, Parker & Co., 1884, p. 147; and Sir E. FRY,op. cif., note 6, p. 8. 35. Sir E. FRY,op. cif.,note 6, p. 7. 36. ORTOLAN, cit., note 13, pp. 524-526. op. 37. See R. LEMIEUX, origines du droitfranco-cadien, Montral, Librairie de droit Les et de jurispmdence, 1901, p. 38: "Souvent il anivait qu'avec la coutume, des cas paticuliers restaient sans solution -alors on avait recours au droit romain, comme droit suppltif'. As well, at 39, note : "Toute la France, toute l'Europe se dbattait sous l'empire des coutumes [au 11" et 12' sicles]. [...] Mais quand le droit romain se leva, au rveil de la socit, dans le 12=sicle. il se Leva comme l'aurore de la civilisation europenne. Le Nord et le Midi acceptrent sa lumire renaissante". See also ORTOLAN, cir., note 13, p. 550. op. 38. R. LEMIeux, id.. p. 114.


Specifie Pe$onnnnee in the Civil Lnw


Thus, in cases of inexecution of contractual obligations, it was only natural for French ecclesiastical courts to give primacy to the canonical doctrine of specific performance. As the monarchy gained strength in France, though, royal courts began to challenge the previously accepted authority of church courts. The struggle was a long one, but the King's courts eventualiy emerged as the final victors during the reign of Louis XIV.39 Yet despite their victory, ecclesiastical courts left a distinct With respect to obligations and indelible mark on the secular courts of the to give, for instance, there was no hesitation to grant an order compelling the debtor ~l to surrender a particular a ~ s e t . To this extent, the French position was no different from that espoused by Roman law in the Late Empire and by the Bolognese glossators of the fourteenth century. As for obligations to do or not to do, bowever, a distinction was drawn between promises that were made under oath and those that were not. If a promise to perfonn or not perform a certain act had k e n secnred by an oath, then the royal courts would award specific performance as a remedy for ine~ecution.~' And before the law of 22 July 1867 depnved them of any recourse against the debtor's person, French courts could enforce their orders through the sanction of imprisonment. If, on the other hand, such a promise had not been secured hy an oath, then the creditor had to senle for damages. his clearly represents a more nuanced approach than the nemo praecise mle would bave been prepared to admit. It is without a doubt a natural outcome of the influence exened by canonical doctrines on French civil courts.

The modern French doctrine of specific performance stems diiectly from the work of Pothier. It is his synthesis of the diverse elements present in French law in the eighteenth century -classical and medieval Roman law as well

39. With respect Io contracts, the pledge of faith came to be lwked upon as an accessory to the contract. Hence, where competence in this domain once lay with ecclesiastical couru, it now came to reside with the royal couru. Lemieux informs us that : "On dcida que le serment ainsi ajout au contrat n'tait qu'un accessoire, et que le juge civil comptent pour connatre du principal, l'tait aussi pour connatre l'accessoire" (id.. p. 116). 40. This was reinforced by the fact that clerical counsel mined in the science of jurispmdence served the royal c o r n of appeal, the Parlements. The Ordinance of 1579, for example, fixed such counsel at fony for the Parlement de Paris (id., p. 159). Oeuvres, L 1. Toulow, J. Dupleix, 1778, pp. 4142, citing several 41. See A. ~'ESPEISSE, French authors and a decision of the Parlement de Paris of 18 December 1557. Decisions awarduig specific performance in the conte* of contractual obligations to give can be witnessed in the Parlement de Paris throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Recueil 42. S e e J . P ~ N , d'arresrs notables des cours souveraines deFrance, t. 10, Pais, 1622, tit. 1, no 3 :"Par disposition de droit commun, celuy qui est oblig de faire quelque chose, : n'est prcisment tenu au faict par luy promis et n'y peut esm contraint (citing CELSUSsee supra, note 26); toutefois si telle promesse est jure, il y sera prcisment conuaint" (citing decrees of the Parlement de Grenoble of 12 September 1460, and of the Parlemen: de Paris of 11 July 1585). This is clearly a hybrid solution. It modifies the "orthodox" Roman law position as fomulated by the medieval glossators by allowing forced execution of an obligation to do or not to do when the promise giving rise to such an obligation has k e n made under oath. The nemo praecise mle contemplated by Baldus & Banolns permitted specific performanceonly withii the context of an obligation to give.


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(1993) 24 R.G.D. 515-554

as French custom - that sewed as the basis for codification in 1804. In fact, the concept of specific performance as it exists in the Code Napolon is simply a reproduction of Pothier's formulation of the dochine. In defming specific performance, Pothier basically adopted the position onginally articulated by the medieval glossators Baldus and Bartolus : obligations to give a certain thmg were specifically enforceable; those involving an obligation to do resulted in damages, for Nemo potest praecise cogi ad factum. Similady, obligations not to do were also limited to an award of damages unless that which had been done in breach of such an obligation could be undone without the involvement of the debtor. If this were possible, then the debtor would be responsible for the costs incuned by the creditor in this regard.43 In this way, Pothier limited the scope of specific performance which had k e n previously acknowledged by the Parlements across France. To a large extent, this reasserted the primacy of damages as a remedy for inexecution of a contractual obligation, since forced execution was liunited to the narrow class of obligations to give. But the concept of execution in kid had not been eliminated from the corpus of French law; it only occupied a less prominent position because no acceptable mechanism existed to compel a debtor to perform without acting on his person. As long as physical compulsion remained the only means through which a debtor could be forced to perform, French law denied specific relief on the grounds that it was violent and therefore necessarily defe~tive."~

43. POTHIER, Trait des obligafiom, ES. 156-158, as found in Oeu~res P o t h o t. 2, de 2nd ed., by M. BUGNET,PaTis, H. Plon, Cosse et Marshall, 1861, p. 75 : 156. Lorsque la chose due est un corps cenain, et que le dbiteur, condamn par sentence donner la chose, a cette chose en sa possession, le juge, sur le requis du crancier, doit lui permeme de la saisir, et de s'en mettre en possession; et il ne sufit pas au dbiteur d'offrir. en ce cas, les dommages et intrts rLsnltant de l'inexcution de son obligation. 157. Lorsque quelqu'un s'est oblig faire quelque chose. cene obligation ne dome pas au crancier le dmit de contraindre le dbiteur prcisment faire ce qu'il s'est oblig de faire, mais seulement celui de le faire condamner en ses dommages et inIrts, faute d'avoir satisfait son obligation. C'est en cette obligation de dommages et intrts, que se rsolvent toutes les obligations de faire quelque chose; car Nemo potest praecise cogi adfacrum. 158. Lorsque quelqu'un s'est oblig ne pas faire quelque chose, le droit que d 0 ~ cette obligation au crancier, est celui de pounuivre en justice le dLbiteur, en e cas de contravention son obligation, pour le faire condamuer aux dommages et intrts rsultant de la conmvention. Si ce qu'il s'tait oblig de ne pas faire, et qu'il a fait au prjudice de son obligation, est quelque chose qui puisse se dbuire, le crancier peut aussi conclure contre son dbiteur la destruction I ses d~ensl. . 44 Ripen and Boulanger hove put it in th& iem; Lonquc I'ublicauon a pour oblet un travail ou un ouvracc c'est-dirr un acte ou une srie d'actes, et que le dbiteur refuse de les accon&", I'excution force est impossible : " N e m praecise cogi potest ad factum". dit un vieil adage. Ln raison en est que l'excution obtenue par force serait presque toujours dfectueuse et surtout qu'elle exigerait l'cmploi & moyens violents, contraires la libert individuelle (emphasis added) (op. rit., note 30, no 1609, p. 587).


Specific Perfotmance in Ule Civil Lav


So long as forced execution was lirnited to obligations to give, the principle enunciated by the nemo praecise mle remained intact. So long as an ascertained asset could be seized by the creditor without requiring the debtor to act, whether passively or actively, there was no apparent inbusion into the sphere of damages. This state of affairs, however, was not to be tolerated for very long. The infiuence of ecclesiasticalcourts in France had left its distinct i m p ~on the French t legal system. Within a decade after the promulgation of the Code Napolon, French courts began to reassert the primacy of specitc performance through a judicially developed doctrine : the astreinte. Their reasoning was that if the debtor could be persuaded to perform his obligation, regardless of its nature, through a mechanism of indirect compulsion, then this would somehow not offend the strictures of the nemo praecise principle. Yet it seems that this suggestion i but wishful thinking. s Although the idea of indirect compulsion via the monetary penalties inflicted by the astreinte reflects judicial creativity, it nonetheless offends the very premise motivating the nemo praecise doctrine: no one can be compelled to specifically perform an act. Whether such performance be secured by indirect compulsion, as opposed to direct physical compulsion, is surely irrelevant. Indirect compulsion only finesses the problem by o f f e ~ g more palatable altemative to the liberala dernomatic mind. in essence, it is just as repulsive to condemn someone to execute his promise hy threatening h i with a monetary penalty as it is to threaten h i with imprisonment. in both cases, performance has k e n secured by inducing the debtor to act in a way which may be contrary to his will. The codai provisions goveming the availability of execution in kind in Qubec are much the same as their French counterp;ui~.~~thc mechanism used Yei to achieve d u s is different fmm that u x d in Francc. ln Quibx, if s p i f i c pedomance is available at dl, it is through injunctive relief that the creditor compels his debtor to perform. Far from beiig an illogicai mechanism of enforcement, as some civilian doctrinal writers have suggested, it could b argued that if a court's intene tion is to secure specific performance of an obligation, d i t compulsion via an injunctiou coupled with a contempt of court sanction is ultimately more effective. What has to be emphasized here is that the only hue civilian remedy for breach of a contractual obligation is damages. Any effort to work in a notion of specific performance into the civil Law theory of obligations wili by its very nature violate the nemo praecise rationale animating the primacy of damages at Roman law. If, on the other hand, more scope is t be given to the canonical concept offidei o laesio which stresses the sanctity of the promise made under oath, then al1 efforts to protect the individual from compulsion would appear to be nngatory and inconsistent with the original objective of specifically enforcing a promise. In short, there is an inherent incompatibiiity between the idea of pacta swtt sentanda and Nemo praecise potest cogi ad factum. If one is preferred over the other, then the consequences which flow from it cannot be l o ~ i c d l y denied. To this extent, al1 a m Lents that the injunction in Qubec privaglaw violates the basic principles of civil law in the field of obligations must be answered in the following manner : The concept of Pothier is at odds with the classicai civilian espousal ofdamages Thus, the


Cf.article 1065-66 C.C.L.C. and article 114244 of the French Code civil.


Speeifie Petformance in the Civil Law


Secondly, the pre-eminence of damages as codified in article 1142 is in no way derogated from by the possibility of third party execution at the cost of the debtor via articles 1143-44. The motivating principle behind article i 142 is the nemo praecise mle. Hence, to the extent that a promise can be fulfilied hy someone other than the promisor himself, the principle remains intact.49 Needless to say, this state of affairs was not very appealing to the French legal mind which had been so strongly influenced by the ecclesiastical notion offidei laesio. As it has k e n previously iustrated, the Parlements across France during the Ancien Rgime acknowledged that promises made under oath could be specifically enforced. Yet now the new Civil Code seemed to deprive judges of the power to issue orders to this effect. This was further reinforced by the law of 22 July 1867 which abolished imprisonment for default in civil obligations and in effect dismissed the possibility of any judicial order acting against the body of the defendar~t.~~


The fvst traces of the astreinte can be found in the decade following the codification of 1804. The first cases did not arise in a contractual context and thus did not implicate article 1142. Nonetheless, as the judicially developed doctrine grew, it came to affect al1 areas of French law, including the field of obligations. Initially, the astreinte was simply an anticipated damages condemnation against the debtor for a f sum of money. If he did not perform his promise withii the delay d granted by the judge, then he would be liahle for the amount previously assessed. As Mm Jacques Bor explains : "[Lle juge, par faveur pour le dbiteur, lui accordait un dlai de grce, en fixant par avance de faon dfmitive les domrnagesintrts qu'il supporterait en cas d'inexc~tion".~~ amount represented the This foreseeable prejudice to be suffered by the creditor due to the debtor's inexecution. In the 1830%however, French courts modified their approacb somewhat. Rather than determining in advance the amount of damages to be paid in case of inexecution, judges acquired the habit of fvcing amounts " tant par jour de retard en les

49. Some complained, however, that such a "restrictive" interpretation of aiticle 1142 made contractual promises to do or no1 to do nugatory because it ailowed the debtor to escape perfoming his promise by prohibiting a court from using any measure of compulsion against him. For example, in 'Tonuats et obligations", Juris-classeur civil, articles 1136-1145, fasc. 1, by P. SIMLER, 104, we find the following comment: "Une position dogmatique assez largement no rpandue parmi les auteurs classiques avait conduit ceux-ci i prendre au pied de la l e m la formule de i'article 1142 et exclure de faon systmatiquetoute mesure d'excution force d'une obligation de faire, pour n'accorder au crancier qu'une satisfaction imparfaitement quivalente sous forme de dommages et intrts". Yet statements such as these seem to forget that this was precisely the objective of article 1142. To allow any conshaint to be exercised against the debtor, articulated by the whether direct or indirect, would in pith and substance offend the p ~ c i p l e nemo praecise d e . 50. See H., L. and 1 M A Z E A ~ D , . Leons de droit civil, t. 2, vol. 1, 8th ed., by F. CHABAS, Paris, Montclwestien, 1991, pp. 1027-1028. 51. J. Bo&, "Astreintes", in Rpertoire de droit civil, 2nd ed., Dalloz, no 9.


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(1993)24 R G B . 515-554

grossissant pour effrayer le dbiteur, sauf les rviser une fois l'excution obtenue [ou non obtenue]"." Two things are noteworthy conceming this latter developmeut with respect to the provisional astreinte. F i t , by a decision in 1834, the Cour de cassation admitted that an astreinte could be issued without regard to the prejudice to be suffered by the creditor, and even in the absence of al1 p r e j u d i ~ e But when .~~ the tirne came to liquidate a provisional astreinte, a court was nevertheless obliged to resmct itself to the actual injury suffered by the creditor; it could not award the amount wbich it had arbitrarily fued in advance as a form of punitive penalty.54 On more than one occasion this point was adamantly reaffiied by the Cour de cassation.55This essentially d i i h e d the effectiveness of the astreinte's comminatory aspect. If a judge's threat was revocable and necessarily iimited to the creditor's injury upon liquidation, what incentive was there for the debtor to promptly perform? Intimidating a debtor with an astreinte was no more persuasive than intimidating him with damages. It was, to put it bluntly, an empty threat. The second point worth noting is that despite its apparenily innocuous nature, the astreinte attracted the assiduous criticism of French doctrinal writers. Perhaps their hostility was fuelled by the realization that in spite of assurances by the Cour de cassation as to the non-punitive nature of the astreinte, judges were almost always inclined to overvaluate the creditor's actual prejudice when liquidaing an astreinte. As well, when an astreinte was issued against an uninformed debtor, he would be under the misguided impression that non-performance would translate into a penalty. Although this would evidently support the intended comminatory character of the astreinte, it clearly had no basis in French la^.'^ Arbirary penalties for disobeying a judicial order were nowhere sanctioned. In fact, they violated a basic principle inhented from the Revolution: nulla poena
sine lege.

in light of these criticisms, there was a growing need to provide a principled justification for the hydra that judicial creativity bad given binh to. In epic style, Professor Esmein put forth a tenuous but tenable theory at the beginnimg of this century. Essentially, bis argument was that the astreinte should not be seen as an award of damages, but rather, as a sanction to an order given by a judge. It is

52. Ibid. 53. Cass. Req.,29 janvier 1834, D.P., 1834.1.81. 54. There were some decisions mdered which would appear to suggest the contrary : that a pmvisional astreinle could be liquidated without regard to the real prejudice suffered by the neditor as a result of his debtor's default These holdings, however, are not qmscntative of the l i e of reasoning in the jurispmdence constante. The essenrial theme of the Cour de cassation's jurispmdence pnor to 1959 is well articulated by M m Bor :'[ ... la Cour de cassation considrait ] que l'astreinte provisoire, qui, lors de son prononc est une mesure de contrainte, entirement distincte des dommages-intrts, [...] se convertissait, lors de sa liquidation. en dommagesintrts lgaux, rparant le prjudice rel caus au crancier par l'excution diffre ou par l'inexcution de l'obligation. La liquidation de l'astreinte n'mit pas autre chose qu'une liquidation de dommagesintcEts" (loc. cit., note 51, no 13). 55. The fint emphatic rejeaion by the Cour de cassation of the idea that damages could be granted which had no relationship to wmpensable loss (i.e.,punitive damages) occurred in 1927: Cass. civ., 14 mars 1927, D.H., 1927.274. Its position was reaffmed again in 1953 and 1955: Cass. civ., 27 fvrier 1953, S., 1953.1.196; Cass. civ.. 27 octobre 1955, Bdl civ., 11, 463. 56. Esmein epigrammaticallyobserves : Trouve-t-on, dans le Code civil ou dans le Code de procdure civile. quelques traces de ce systme? Aucune" (loc. cit., note 48, p. 9).


Specific Performance in the C v l Lmu ii


a penalty punishing the debtor's disobedience; it does not aim at compensating the creditor's injury. To support his contentions, Esmein advances the following proposition. A judge's authority, he claims, involves two elements :jurisdictio and imperium. The pnor consists of the authority to administerjustice by pronouncing on the cases before him. The latter consists of making al1 the necessary orders to ensure that justice is canied out and that his decisions are not empty exhortations. There is a senous counterargument with which Esmein must contend, however - the Revolution has displaced the notion of judiciai imperium from the droit commun. After all, the legislative decrees of the 16th to the 24th of August 1790 reshicted the Parlements' powers to deciding the controversy in questi~n.~' Esmein But claims that judicial imperium has survived the Revolution, and offers two grounds of proof. Fust, a statement from a prominent magistrate wnting in 1810, Hemion de Pansey, which blandly reiterates Esmein's own thesis without any circumspection : "L'autorit judiciaire se compose de deux lments, la juridiction et le commandement".58 From this, Esmein hastily infers that "La tradition n'est donc pas interrompue; le juge peut encore donner des ordres, prescrire et dfendre, d'aprs Hemion de P a n ~ e ~His ~ ~ " . second gound of proof is equally unsatisfying. It lies in an obscure article of the Code de procdure civile which gives a judge the power to control courtroom proceedings by issuing injunctions if need eb @ '. From this limited authority to make orders, Esmein denves a general judicial power to issue injunctions and make orders. In this way, he is able to conclude that French courts are entitled to compel debtors to comply with their orders "par des dommagesintrts coercitifs et comminatoire^".^^ Esmein's theory is without question not very convincing, but given the need to somehow justify a procedure which courts in France had used for nearly a cennuy, scepticism was no match for credulity. Certainly the most disturhiig aspect of his scheme was the nebulous distinction between damages designed to compensate and those designed to coerce performance. How can damages fa into the latter category and not be punitive, somethiig which Esmein's stance would want to deny? And assuming for a moment that this is possible, how are "dommages-intrts employs comme moyen de contrainte'' at ail threatening? Until the Cour de cassation came out of the closet in 1959 to admit that an astreinte, in orda to be effective had to divorce itself from the idea of compensatory damages, lower courts asserted its menacing force by resorting to an exaggerated evaluation of the prejudice suffered by the creditor upon liquidation of the astreinte.62
57. See J. BRODEUR, 'The Injunction in French Jurispmdence''. (193940) 14 Tulane L. Rev. 211, p. 212. 58. As cited in M.A. ESMEIN. loc. cif..note 48. o. 49. 59. I d , p. 50. 60. Article 1036 Code de procdure civile: "Les mbunaux, suivant la gravit des c i m n stances. pourront, dans les causes dont ils sont saisis, prononcer, mme d'office, des injonctions, supprimer des nits, les dclarer calomnieux et ordonner l'impression et L'affiche de leurs jugements". 61. M.A. ESMEIN, loc. cif., note 48, p. 52. 6 2 The Cour de cmsation refused to reverse several cases in which some substantid prejudice was pmven, but where the total damages awarded were suspiciously high. See, for instance, Cass. civ., 2 fkvrier 1955, Bull. civ., 1.50; Cass. civ., 7 juin 1956. Bull. civ.. II, 213. In Cass. civ., 17 fvrier 1956, Bull. civ.. IV, 125 the Corn refused to reverse the lower court's holding. even though part of the sum awarded was for thedebtor's "mauvaise foi". Doctrinal writers were quick


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(1993)24 R G D 515-554 ...



A jurisprudential breakthrough was made in 1959 when the Cour de cassation clearly distinguished between damages and astreinte. The prior was now categorically classified as compensatory, the latter as cornminatory and punitive. The ratio is worth citing in ils entirety :
[...] l'astreinte provisoire, mesure de contrainte entirement distincte des dommagesintrts, et qui n'est en dfinitive qu'un moyen de vaincre la rsistance oppose l'excution d'une condamnation, n'a pas pour objet de compenser le dommage n du retard et est normalement liquide en fonction de la gravit de la faute du dbiteur rcalcitrant et de ses facults. [...163

As the passage indicates, however, it was only the provisional astreinte that was liberated from al1 ties with the notion of damages. The definitive astreinte, for no apparently logical reason, remained shackled to damages until the legislative reform of 1972.In no insignificant terms, this breakrhrough was responsible for the revival of specific performance. Soon, it was 10 reoccupy the prominent position that it had acquired in French law before the codification of 1804. But what factors made this redefinition of the provisional astreinte so potent as to be able to diminish the pnmacy of damages? The answer is simple, although not necessanly coherent with the letter and spirit of the Civil Code. A judge was now permitted to intimidate a debtor into performing his promise with a monetaxy penalty which had no relationship to the prejudice suffered by the creditor. This inevitably reduced the scope of the nemo praecise nile, since article 1142 came to be seen as only prohibiting the use of physical force. Let me suggest, however, mat this violates any meaningful readiig of the maxim Nemo praecise potest cogi ad factum, which was intended to prohibit ail forms of compulsion against the debtor's will, whether direct or indirecf on his person or on his property. This broad interpretation of the nemo praecise principle is supported by the articles of the Civil Code dealmg with the effect of obligations to do or not to do (articles 1142-44).65Although articles 1143-44allowed a creditor to obtain specific performance if the promise was subject to execution by a thi Party, in no case did it contemplate compelliig the debtor himself to petform. As Esmein bas quite aptly observed : "Mais, qu'on le remarque bien, il n'y a l [articles 1143.441 aucune pression exerce sur la volont du dbiteur [...]."66 In light of this, it is cor-

to recognize this evidently punitive capacity of judicial discretion. "La docIine unanime reconnaissait d'ailleurs que la marge d'apprciation dont dispose le juge du fond p o u fuer les dommages-intrts lui permettait, s'il le voulait, d'imprimer cette liquidation un 'parfum d'astreinte' et de tenir compte de la fante commise par le dbiteur qui s'tait rehis excuter en nature" (1. BO&, roc. cil., note 51, no 1 ) 5. " 63. Cass. civ., 1. 20 octobre 1959,D., 1959.537. 64. Tbe Cour de cassation did its best to maintain an arbifmy and artificiai distinction between provisional and detnitive astreintes. Although both are identical in nature, the Court dogmaticaily asserted that a definitive arrreinte "est destine rparer le prjudice pouvant rsulter du retard excuter les dcisions judiciaires." See Cass. civ., lm, 17 fvrier 1965,Bull. civ., 1 no 139. , 65. See infro, section N and note 46. 66. M.A. EISMEIN, cil., note 48. p. 10. IOC.


Specifie Peifo-ce

in the Civii L a w


rect to suggest that the view of the classical authors, following the view expressed by Pothier, was correct in maintainmg that damages were the primary remedy of the droit commun since 1804. There was, ater d l , no express authonty in the Code for using coercion as a method to obtain performance of an obligation to do or not to do.67 Quite to the contrary, by codifying the nemo praecise mle, article 1142 explicitly denied any such recourse. The point to be made once again is that damages and specific performance are from the very outset incompatible remedies. Once the leap of faith has been made into the domain of execution in kind, there is no tuming back to quaint rationalizations designed to fetter the biiding nature of a promise. Damages are premised on non-compulsion of the debtor to perfom; specific performance, if it is to be efficacious, demands exactly the opposite - compulsion on the debtor's will. Whether this be done by acting on his property or his person is an academic question since both avenues are essentially comminatory. In fact, if the pnmacy of specific performance is vigorously professed, then a court must have the ultimate power to impress its desire on the debtor by tbreatening h i with imprisonment. And in this respect, the Qubec injunction, with its sanction of incarceration by means of contempt of court proceediigs, is in the fmal analysis more effective than the French astreinte. The scenario has been cast in colourful language by one Amencan wnter :
If the defendant cared to refuse to perform, no one could do anything about it. The Anglo-Amencan injunction and its eventual contempt proceedings has one trump card that no defendant can beat -jail. The French courts, with no such power, can only watch while the defendant thumbs his nose at the judges6&


1972 AND


In 1972 the French legislature finally took the initiative to grant official recognition to the hitherto judicially articulated doctrine of astreinte. By the Loi no 72-626 du 5 juillet 1972 which entered into effect on 16 September 1972, the provisional and definitive astreinte were enacted into French law and put on equal footing with each other. Both were declared to be distinct from damages and left to the discretion of the judge seized to as ses^.^^ The nature and function of the astreinte in modem French law are worth examining in order to better understand how it serves as the mechanism for specifically enforcing promises. The initial question posed by French docinal writers was to what extent a debtor wuld be compelled to perform. The general principle is well pre67. It was only within t e context of an d>ligation to give or deliver lhat the Code made h provision for execution thmugh m n u militari With respect to a contract of sale, for example, article 1610 States that : "Si le vendeur manque faire la dlivrance dans le temps convenu entre les parties, l'acqureur p o u m B son choix, demander la rsolution de la vente, ou sa mise en possession, si le retard ne vient que du fait du vendeur" (emphasis added). 68. 1 BRODEUR. cit., note 57, p. 216. . IOC. 69. 1 reproduce the two most relevant articles of the Loi du 5juillet 1972 pertaining to the asrreinre in civil maiters. Ait. 5. Les hbunaux peuvent, mme d'office, ordonner une astreinte pour assurer l'excution de leurs dcisions. Ait. 6. L'astreinte est indpendante des dommages-intrts. Elle est provisoire ou dfinitive. L'asminte doit tre considre comme provisoire, moins que le juge n'ait prcis son caractre dfmitif.


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sented by the Mazeaud brothers :"L'excution en nature est toujours possible, sauf lorsque, exigeant le concours personnel du dbiteur, elle aboutirait une pression intolrable sur la volont de celui-ci".'O Note that specific performance is not a b initio prohibited when the debtor's personai participation is required to execute the obligation, but rather, only when such participation intolerahly constrains his will. The next issue then becomes one of determining what constitutes "une pression intolrable sur la volont du dbiteur". The orthodox position in France today is that the nemo praecise mle, as codified in article 1142 of the Civil Code, only Hence, prohibits physical cornpul~ion.~~ as the Mazeauds explain, a pecuniary fme in the form of an astreinte is a perfectly acceptable method of coercion :
Aussi bien, notre avis i'article 1142 fait-il obstacle seulement une condamnation la contrainte physique sur le dbiteur pour l'obliger s'excuter personnellement. Il n'empche pas le juge de prononcer en venu de son imperiurn, une injoncrion, au besoin assortie d'une ast~einte.'~

Anything short of physical compulsion is not considered to be a violation of the debtor's liberty. Thus, the astreinte, k i n g an indirect vehicle of compulsion acting on the debtor's property, is not seen as fallmg within the censure expressed by article 1142. In this way, the scope of the n e m praecise p ~ c i p l has heen reduced. e So greatly reduced, in fact, that what was once a substantive prohibition has now become a hollow pronouncement of form. As Professor Jeandidier has put it, the nemopraecise maxim is Little more than a residual "soupape de sret". Practically a l obligations to do and not to do, even those involving a strongly personal parl ticipation on behalf of the debtor, can be sanctioned with an astreinte. It is no accident that just two months before the law of 5 July 1972 was passed, the Cour de cassation felt confident enough about the definitive role that specific performance was to play in French law in the futwe that it emphaticaily reaffiied what was by this point a practical reality : a court's primary function, to the extent possible, is to give the creditor that which he has k e n promised or that which has k e n taken h m him without just cause in law, not its equivalent in money da mage^.'^

70. H., L. et 1. MAZEAUD, cir., note 50, p. 1027. op. 71. This idea finds various expressions in the doctrine. P. Simler contends that this is the real impon of the nemo praecise mle and that d l non-physical compulsion is pennined by article 1142 : Aucune coercition physique ne peut donc tre mise en uvre l'encontre d'un dbiteur rcalcitrant pour le contraindre s'excuter. C'est ce qu'exprime l'adage "Nemo poresr praecise cogi ad facrum": NUI ne peut tre contraint I'accomplissement direct d'un fait. [...] Ds lors que l'intgrit et la liben6 physique sont hon de cause, tout autre moyen de contrainte tendant obtenir l'excution force peut et mme doit tre mise en uvre, si le crancier le requiert (loc. cir., note 49, nm 102 & 105). W. JEANDIDIER, "L'excution force des obligations contractuelles de faire", (1976) 74 in X T D C 700. p. 703 frames the restriction contained in anicle 1142 in tcms of "bnital compulsion": "le Code n'a pas banni. sans distinction. la pression sur k dibitcw: xuls sont interdli, les procds d'excution brutaux, impliquant une aueinte inadmissible la personne humaine". op. 72. H., L. and J. MAZEAUD, cil., note 50, no 935, p. 1032. 73. Cass. civ., Z5, 9 mai 1972,J.C.P.,1972.IV.164. The principk of restituio in i n t e g m was applied. It flows from the argument made by many French doctrinal writen tbat an award of damages only compensates for prejudice suffered; it does not efface the wrong done as is the case with execution in kind.


Specif Performance in the C v l Lnw ii


Execution in kind was here to ~ t a y . 'And through the mechanism of astreinte, ~ courts could enforce their judgments graning the creditor performance in specie by threatening the debtor with monetary penalties until he no longer had the will to resist.

1. Enforcing Judgments Ordering Specific Performance

One of the most important uses of the astreinte is in the field of contractual obligations. When the debtor fails to execute his promise to do or not to . do, the creditor may have judgment rendered against hAimost invariably, such judgments will be coupled with an astreinte ordering the debtor to perform within a certain period of time or face a stipulated over and above the damages sustained by the creditor upon liquidation of the astreinte. If the astreinte is provisional, it will state the penalty to be calculated for each day that performance is late; if it is definitive, it will state the total fine to be borne by the debtor upon failure to comply with the judgment. The penalty specified in a provisional astreinte, unlike that in a definitive astreinte, is subject to reevaluation at the time of liquidation.

74. Much ink has b e n spilt by doctrinal writers in the latter half of this centuiy in an effon to reassert the primacy of specific performance. Although many of the arguments advanced are persuasive, their fundamental flaw is that they assume, without much discussion, that the Civil this Code suppom such a proposition. 1 was, however, able to find one frank admission tha~ is not the case. The Mazeaud brothers, under the section bearing the title Droit d'exiger une condemnation en nature, gmdgingly confess that "Le pxincipe Id'excution en nature] est d'vidence. II importe peu qu'il ne soit pas nonc par le Code en une forme gnrale" (emphasis added). . Trait de la responrabilit civile, t. 3,6th ed., Paris, Montchrestien, See H., L. and 1 M~zEauo, 1978, no 2304, p. 616. One would hardly expect to fmd such a statement in a civilian text. It is more akin to the common law inductive approach Io legal reasoning. Nevertheless, once this leap of faith is made, it is then not difficult to unearth a provision of the Civil Code which at least implicitlv alludes to the primacy of specific ~rfOmMnce inexecution of a coniracmal obli~afor lion scholarc have round sush supp& in aniclc 1134 which mcrcly staicr thai a contrdci has The force of law betHeen thc contraciing panies : "Les convention, ICgalcment fom&s tiennent lieu this, it has b e n arguedthat "Le principe de la force de loi ceux qui les ont faites". obligatoire des wntrats justifie que le dbiteur d'une obligation de faire ou de ne pas faire l'excute en name, in specie, et que le juge, au, besoin, I'y contraigne". See P. FOUCHARD, "L'injonction judiciaire et l'excution en nature : Elments de droit franais", (1989) 20 R.GD. 31, D. 34. WI& this presumption underlying iheir reasoning. wnten have cxalted the paramounic) of specific rnrfomancc withoul remorse. Profersor Jwdidier in,ists thai "une indcmnii? &uniaire ne remplacera jamais le fait promis" and that pacta sunt servanda dictates "respecide la parole donne" (loc. cil., note 71, pp. 702 and 706). Along the same lines, Simler goes as far as suggesting that only "absolute irnpossibility" should temper a cteditor's ngbt to specific perfomance : "La vocation de toute obligation est, de par sa dfinition, d'ne excute de la manire exactedont elle a t contracte. 1.. .] Seules devraientinluctablementfaire chec B ces principes, wmllaires de la force obligatoire du contrat, les hypothses d'impossibilit absolue d'excution en nature" (/oc.cil.. note 49, no 101). 75. This fme is aHKdcd 10 the creditor under the mbnc of a "peine prive". Although ihc tex1 uf the lai d u 5 luillcr 1972 has no express provision 10 this effcii. ihis h<lk :the ~ccer>td t" - . position since the senate, for reasons of public orer, rejected the National Assembly's pro&sal that such fines be shared between the creditor and the state.



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Through this process, a judge endeavours to "vaincre la rsistance d'un dbiteur rcalcitrant, et de l'amener excuter une dcision de ju~tice".'~ Two points should be noted. First, despite the generaily accepted idea that an astreinte is a suhsidiary process that the judge uses " dfaut de [...] tout autre mode efficace d'obtenir paiement",77 modem jurisprudence has effectively dispensed with this restriction, issuing astreintes where it would have b e n possible to obtain execution .~~ through differeut r n e a n ~ This essentially means that where a court could have used anicles 1143 or 1144 to allow a creditor to obtain execution by a third party at the debtor's expense, it nonetheless showed little reluctance in ordering the debtor himself to perform the act promised hy threatening hirn with an astreinte. Secondly, although older de~isions'~ dochine refused to extend the menace of and an astreinte ta obligations contracted intuitu personae, modem jurisprudence and doctrines0 show fewer hesitations in admitting it under these circumstances. The juri~pnidence,for example, has shown a willingness to use an astreinte to oblige "une compagnie d'lectricit rtablir chez un abonn le courant qu'elle avait abusivement coup, [...] un ouvrier excuter un travail, [... et] un employeur rintgrer un dlgu du personnel illgalement c~ngdi".~'

2. Astreinte in the Context of Provisional Relief: The Procdure de Rfr

Much like an interlocutory injunction in Qubec and Canadian cornrnon law jurisdictions, the procdure de rfr is designed ta provide the party seeking Its ongins it provisional relief pendig fmal disposition of his claim by a
op. 76. H., L. and 1. MAZEALID, cil., note 50, no 940, p. 1037. 77. Cass. corn., 17 avril 1956, J.C.P., 1956.9330. 78. See H., L. and J. MAZEAUO, cil., note 50, no 947, p. 1041. op. 79. See. for instance. the famous case involvine the . - vainter Rosa Bonheur in which the Cour d'oppzldr Parts rcfuid lo isbuc an a<rreinrrio oblige her to fin~rh ponraii : P ~ n s4 j~illei a , IX05. U P . 1805.11.201. GenerII\ wakina. uherc the obliesiion h a , h x n one iiendininr IO an artistic or intellecnial endeavour, court h& k e n more inclined to award damages than s&cific performance: See Cass. civ., 14 man 1900, D.P., 1900.1.497. This would more than likely also be the position adopted by a French court today. All the doctrinal writers are in agreement on this point! See P. FOUCHARD, cil., note 74, p. 46; and JEANDIDIER, cil.. note 71, p. 718. /oc. /oc. 80. The docmne appears to k inconsistent on this point. While most agree that obligations contracted intuitu Dersonae should not k subiect to an astreinte, there is disagreement as Io the scope of this exciusion. Some fear that interpreting it too bmadly could r &t the nemo praecise mle to its earlier stature; others fear that interpreting it t w narrowly will leave it no effective ambit of application. Thus, we have, on the one hand, the orrhodox declmation that article 1142 shows a preference for damages only in the context of "obligations qui supposent ncessairement un fait personnel du dbiteur parce qu'elles ont t contractes intuitupersonoe" (H., L. and J. MAZEAUD,cil., note 50, p. 1032). Yet on the other hand, we discover that this op. limitation is so vlaeued with mhieuitv that we have little choice, as Simler sumesis, but to leave ii io the disnetion of judicil p~dcnc;: "Au toUl. le domaine dans lequel tout~~~nirainie.~u'clle soit <lireceou indirecte, doit ctrr ex.clue ? l'encontre du dbiteur d'une oblicdtion de faire. CI ou I [sic], pamnt, L'article 1142 doit tre littralement appliqu, parat imp&s. [...] Il faut s'en remettre, semble-1-il, l'apprciation souveraine du juge" (loc. cit., note 49, no 117). 81. This assortment of holdings is cited in H., L. and 1. MAzenuo, op. cit.,note50, n0948, p. 1042. 82. 1 owe my understanding of the procdure de rfr to an excellent discussion of the topic by Henry Solus and Roger Perrot. See H. SOLUS R. PF.RROT, & Droit judiciaire priv, t. 3, Pans, Sirey, 1991. pp. 1055 et seq.


Speeifi Performance in the Civil L a w


lie in the seventeenth century where it fust appeared in the juispnidence of the Chtelet de Paris as a result of the practical necessities dictated by a slow and usuaily inefficient litigation process. The first text governing the procedure emerged in 1685.83 In effect, it gave the lieutenant civil du Prvt de Paris the power " l'effet d'ordonner que les parties comparatront le jour-mme pour y tre entendues et, par lui, ordonnes ce qu'il estimera juste".84 In 1806, the Code de procdure civile codified the rfr and declared the presidents of civil courts of fust instance competent "de statuer en rfr dans les cas d'urgence ou lorsque l'excution d'un titre excutoire se heurtait une difficult d'ex~ution".~~ the procdure de Today, rfr is codified at article 484 of the Nouveau code de procdure civile.86 One of the main issues which surrounded the rfr in this century was whether it could be coupled with an astreinte. The question provoked lively debate from both pro and con camps before it was defmitively resolved by the Cour de cassation in 1950. In a decision of the Section sociale de la Chambre civile, the Court held that "le juge des rfrs [...] saisi pour vaincre la rsistance apporte un jugement antrieur [...] a qualit pour prononcer une a~treinte".~' This position was granted express legislative approval in 1971 by the Dcret no 71-740 du 9 septembre 1971. It forms part of the present Nouveau code de procdure civile at article 491(1) which states that "Le juge statuant en rfr peut prononcer des condamnations des astreinte^".^^ The second signifcant advance with respect to the rfr was made hy the Dcret no 73-1122 du 17 dcembre 1973 which extended the availability of a rfr beyond the traditional "cas d'urgence o aucune contention srieuse ne se prsente". It was therefore now possible to obtain a "rfr sous astreinte" in order to prevent an imminent injury or to stop a manifestly illegai a c t i ~ i t y . ~ ~ This recourse was made even more potent in 1987 by allowing a judge to grant an ordonnance de rfr despite the existence of a senous contention with respect to the obligation in q ~ e s t i o n In light of this addition, ail interlocutory measures .~ ordered via the rfr, even those pertainimg to issues of strong contention, could be sanctioned with a provisional or definitive astreinte. The final development which has helped to defme the modem procdure de rfr occurred in 1985 when the French legislature expanded the scope

83. Praticien du Chielet de Paris, Paris, Laurent-Prault 1773, tiUe 9, c. 1, 824. 84. H. Sorus & R. PERROT, CU.,note 82, p. 1057. op. 85. Articles 806 to 81 1 of the old Cade de procdure civile as cited in ii bd 86. Art. 484 : L'ordonnance de rfr est une dcision provisoire rendue la demande d'une panie, l'autre prsente ou appele, dans les cas o la loi confere un juge qui n'est pas saisi du principal le pouvoir d'ordonner immdiatement les mesures ncessaires. 87. Cass. civ., 28 mars 1950, D., 1953.377. This decisiun reversed an earlier position adopted by the Couit in 1898 denymg thai this was possible. 88. It has been held that a judge making a rfr mlmg can, on the basis of article 491 (1). issue both provisional and d e f ~ t i v astreintes to assure the execution of his decisions. See, for e example, Cass. civ., 2'. 4 mai 1977, Bull. civ., II, 81. 89. Now codified in article 809 of the nouveau Code deprocdure civile which states, inter alia, that a rfr may be issued "soit pour prvenir un dommage imminent, soit pour faire cesser un trouble manifestement illicite". 90. Dcrer no 87-434 du 17 juin 1987 added this phrase to anicle 809(1) of the nouveau Code de procdure civile: "mme en prsence d'une contestation srieuse".


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of the "rfr-provision" to ipclude obligations to do.91 The rfr-provision is a procedure by wbich a court may, witbii the context of an obligation not seriously disputed, grant a creditor "une somme valoir sur le montant dfmitif de la condamnation qui sera prononce par le juge du fond".92Under the new law, a debtor could be ordered to perform his obligation provisionaiiy "mme s'ils s'agit d'une obligation de faire". The implications of this are far-reaching. Simply put, a creditor is entitled to obfain a provisional but executory judgrnent against his debtor, forcing the latter, through the menace of an astreinte if necessary, to specifically perform bis promise. And the requisite interest to make such a petition is acquired by anyone who is the creditor of a non-seriously contested obligation to do. The existence of the obligation need not be defmitively estahlished at law; that it not be seriously contested is ~ u f t i c i e n t"[Ill est donc dsornais possible", as Solus and .~~ Perrot expain, "de demander au juge des rfrs d'enjoindre un dbiteur, au besoin sous asmeinte, la livraison d'une chose ou l'excution d'une prestation de service"."




If the nemo praecise mie means anythimg, it must surely mean that man is the master of his will. Therefore, to distinguish between "pression sur la personne du dbiteur" and "pression sur la volont du dbiteur" as has b e n done in France is an academic exercise designed to make the menacing compulsion represented by the astreinte more palatable to advocates of individual liberty. If the full import of the maxim Nemo praecise potest cogi adfactum is accepted, no compulsion is permissible against the debtor to induce him to perform, whether it be duect or indirect. In essence, "pression sur la volont du dbiteur" translates into "violence sur sa volont", which for ail practical purposes is equivalent to "violence sur sa personne". Consequently, in order to accept specific performance as the primary remedy for obligations to do or not to do, the nemo pruecise principle must be set aside. Attempts to h e s s e the mle by claiming that it is applicable only with respect to obligations contracted intuitu personue create the kind of ambiguities that have been discussed previously. Once the supremacy of the promised word is averred, then ail notions of protecMg individual libery by awarding money damages in those cases which require it become mere ritual. In fact, it seems that the only real
91. The Dcrer no85-1330du I7dcembre 1985 added the following phrase to anicle 809 of the nouveau Code de procdure civile : "ou ordonner l'excution de L'obligation mme s'il s'agit d'une obligation de faire". op. 92. H.SOLUS& R. PERROT, cir., note 82, p. 1094. 93. For the sake of clarity, 1 reproduce article 809 of the nouveau Code de procdure civile in its entirety. Art. 809. Le prsident peut toujours, mme en prsence d'une contesration srieuse, prescrire en rfr les mesures conservatoires ou de remise en tat qui s'imposent, soit pour prvenir un dommage imminent, soit pour faire cesser un wouble manifestement illicite. Dans les cas o l'existence de I'obligation n'est pas srieusement contestable, il peut accorder une provision au crancier ou ordonner I'ex&ution de l'obligation mme s'il s'agit d'une obligation de faire. 94. H. SOLUS R. P E R ~ ~ Tcir., note 82, no 12%. p. 1097. & op. ,






Specific Perfomnce in the Civii Low


reason why French courts and authors have felt obliged to admit the appropriateness of damages in certain circumstances is so as not to render articles 1142 of the Civil Code completely m e a n i r ~ ~ l e sAs ~ ~ s . Esmein has observed, "[Ill fallait bien laisser quelque application vraie l'article 1142du Code civil. Il fallait bien trouver quelques hypothses o, comme le veut la loi, l'obligation de faire se rsout ncessairement en dommages-intrts".96 Clearly, then, maintaining a regime which avows specific performance as the principle remedy for inexecution of contractual obligations offends the nemo praecise mle at its most fundamental level. What, after dl, is left of the notion of individual liberty if one accepts Jeandidier's view that "le juge ne devrait pas a u t e matiquement exclure le recours aux astreintes tant que l'excution en nature ne crerait pas une vritable ser~itude?"~' What does "le souci de ne pas aliner la libert de la partie r~alcitrante"~~ within a system which allows a provimean sional and definitive astreinte to be issued at both the interlocutory and judgment level in order to scare, compel, induce, frighten and cajole the debtor into performing? Nothing! The notion of individual liberty has been rendered purely formal. What, then, is n e c e s s q to render the French system of enforcing specific performance more coherent? A total dissociation from the nemopraecise rule. With its strictures out of the way, the real issue could be squarely addressed -how to give a court effective and plenaiy power to enforce its orders. Admittedly, the astreinte is effective and for the most part achieves the desired results. But it is ultimately ineffective because it does not have the capaciry to act on a contemptuous debtor in personam. Take, for example, a debtor who is insolvent and therefore remains unphased by the monetary penalty pronounced against him via the astreinte. Assume also, for the sake of argument, that this debtor is fully capable of performing the act which he promised. Under these circumstances, the present state of French law woud have no alternative but to throw up its bands and recognize its impotence. This, however, would not be the case if it were equipped with an injunction similar to that in Qubec. Breach of an injunctive order in Qubec translates into a contempt of court proceeding whose ultimate sanction is imprisonment. Few are those who can resist such compulsion. The sanction of imprisonment in a civil context is an idea that offends modem sensibilities. Yet it is the logical consequence of the pacta swu servanda doctrine espoused by civilian authors and its efficacy cannot be denied. A fact pattern offered by the Mazeaud brothers clearly illustrates the advantages of the Qubec injunctive procedure in comparison with the French doctrine of astreinte :
Un acteur s'est, par exemple, engag ne pas paratre sur une scne. Ii se prpare nanmoins A y jouer, comme en font foi les affiches. Rien ne serait plus facile son diiteur que de s'y opposa, en s'emparant de sa personne on en l'empchant de
!oc. 95. P. FOUCHARD,cit., note 74, p. 45, in an effort to confer some sense to article 1142 makes a statement which contradicts his own earlier remarks conceming the supremacy of execution in kind : En paJticulier, et mme si elle est sollicite, il (le juge] n'imposera pas l'excution en nature d'une obligation de faire s'il estime: -qu'elle est inapproprie, car la satisfaction du crancier peut tre obtenue d'une manire plus efficace par une condamnation pcuniaire. 96. M.A. EIsMerN, loc. cir., note 48, p. 18. 97. W. JEANDIDER, cil., note 71, p. 719. /oc. 98. Id., pp. 723-24.


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pnUer dans le th&&. Le mbunal ne peut cependant autoriser de tels moyens, car ils wneraient atteinte la libert individuelle. En dcidant aue les oblisations de ne pas faire se rsolvent en dommages-intrts. l'article 114i signifie G i s m e n t que les mesures de contrainte sur la personne ne doivent pas tre employes pour paivenir l'excution en nature des obligations de ne pas faire et que, si elles sont seules possibles, le crancier doit se contenter d'un q ~ i v a l e n t . ~

If such a situation were to arise in Qubec, a Superior Court judge would have the power to issue a prohibitive injunction against the actor. Upon refusing to comply, he could be physicaily compelled to honour his promise. One. fmal observation needs to be made with respect to the astreinte before tuming to an examination of the injunction in Qubec. It is the "peine prive" aspect of the astreinte. The penalties assessed against the debtor, once liquidated, are awarded to the creditor. This makes iittle sense. If the purpose of an astreinte is to compel the debtor to perfom his promise by strengthening a court's authority to exact performance, why should the fines go to the creditor? In other words, if an astreinte is an expression of judicial imperium, then it is illogical to award the creditor anything more than the amount representing the prejudice he has actually suffered. If inexecution is an f i n t to public order, then al1 fines whose purpose it is to deter such an affront should accrue to the public purse. This is the perspective motivating similar fines in Canada.lW



Among other things, the reign of Louis XIV witnessed the codification of civil procedure hy the Ordonnance de 1667. This law was extended to New France in 1678 upon its regisiration at the Conseil Suprieur de Qubec. Although the Ordonnance de 1667 was replaced in France by Napolon's Code de procdure civile in 1806, it remained in force in Qubec until the fust Code of Civil Procedure replaced it in 1867. After the Conquest and the Royal Proclamation of 1763,it was temporarily set aside as French law in Qubec was replaced hy English civil and criminal law. But hy vittue of the Qubec Act, 1774, French civil L w and hence a the Ordonnance de 1667 were reestablished in Qubec. Nevertheless, pursuant to the Royal Proclamation, judicial organization in the province had been recast accordmg to the British mode1 hy Governor Murray in 1774. This structure was to remain untouched by the provisions of me Qubec Act. Consequently, the British
99. H., L. and J. MAZEAUD. cir., note 74, no 2313, PD. 628-629 OD. 100. In Qubec, this issue is go;emed by An ~ c t ~ e s ~ e c t i i Paymenr o Fines, R.S.Q. the g f c. P-2. art. 5. which ~rovides fmes wllected oursuant to the statute f o m oait of the consolthat idated revenue fund and are consequcntly ummincd Io ihe r n ~ n ~ x l h r Fiwnrcs. MOICspcder cificallv. in a decision of thc Quber Coun of A u t d . Gcndrc3u J.A. made tiic followine remark conceking fmes ariansing out of contempt of an% pmceeings: "Le requrant en outr&e n'est qu'un auxiliaire de la justice qui met un processus en marche. La procdure de mise en mute de l'enqute sur la commission de l'outtage par la violation de l'injonction et sa punition ventuelle, n'appartient pas celui qui l'initie; tout au plus, est-il concern par la procdure" (C.T.C.UM. v. P.C. Qubec, LI9871 R . D I 199, p. 204). 101. The historical outline wntained in Ihis section is indebted to the work of Alain Rujiner. See A. PRUIINER, "Ongines historiques de l'injonction en droit qubcois", (1979) 20 C. de D. 249.



SpeciJ Performance in the Civii l a w


institutions introduced into Qubec law made it necessary for procedure to adapt accordimgly, which effectively meant that English law was to profoundly influence the development of procedural L w in the province after the Conquest. a In 1857, under the impetus of Georges tienne Cartier, codification of the substantive and procedural law of Lower Canada was undertaken by a three-man commission comprised of three Superior Court judges : Caron, Day and Morin. The new Code deprocdure ciijile became law in 1867. Despite the Code's overall success, it contained a lacuna which soon manifested itself to both practitioners and judges. Simply put, it was the absence of interlocutory measures which could be taken to assure the efficacy of a fmal judgment. There was, as Professor h j i n e r has obsewed, "[une] absence de dispositions permettant au juge d'essayer de contrler certains comportements des parties pendant l'instance". 'OZ In England, this problem was addressed through the mechanism of the interlocutory injunction; in France, the procdure de rfr, which had emerged i 1685, served essentially n the same function. 'O3 But in Qubec there was no provision in the new Code conferring upon a judge the power to make adequate interim orders. Although the injunction could have filled this hiatus, its Equitable origins seem to have militated against its adoption by the codifiers. One of the fust jurists to direct his attention to this gap in Qubec procedural law was Gonzalve Doutre. Looking for a way to solve the problem, Doutre stumbled upon articIe 209 of the 1825 Code de procdure de la Louisiane which recognized the English-style injunction as an "acte conservatoire". Thereafter, Doutre became an advocate of the injunction in Qubec. Writing in 1867, he remarked that "Cette lacune dans le Code est regrettable et il est esprer qu'avant peu, le bref d'injonction viendra la combler et complter les mesures provisionnelles affectes par le Code".lw It should be noted at this point that the need for an injunction in Qubec civil law at the end of the nineteenth century was based solely on a desire to remedy a procedural defect at the interlocutory level. There was no conceprual appreciation, not even an inchoate one, that an injunction might serve as a means to enforce specific performance of a contractual obligation. Ghislain Mass has appropriately characterized the situation in the following tenns : De ceux qui. au sicle dernier, se son1 faits les DrOInOIeUrs de I'inionchon. aucun ne la destinait dnouer I'tmp;i<sr. dan, luquelle're ouvaient Ir\ uibunaux Ince l'excution sp6cifique des obligations de faire ci de ne rias faire. Leur dmarche visait essen~ellem.cnt combler une lacune du droit p~oc&dural:L'impossibilit 'ntne d'empcher qu'un plaideur puisse, par ses agissemenll pendant i i s a c , porter atteinte au droit que son adversaire dsire faire sanctionner. L'injonction, dans son rle provisoire (inferlocutory injunction),s'avrait tre, leun yeux, l'instmment appropri pour rsoudre cette Yet this should not suggest that the injunction is somehow incompatible with specific performance. It is, in fact, ultimately the most effective means to coerce the debtor to respect his promise. Any incompatibility which arises has deeper roots; it lies in the primacy which the civil law has traditionally attached to the remedy of damages as erpressed by the nemo proecise principle. 102. Id., p. 255. 103. This procedure is desnibed in greater detail in section V.D.2 dealing with the ordonnance de rfr. 104. G. DOUIRE, lois de lo procdure civile, t. 2, MonW. Sncal, 1867, p. 279. Les 105. G. MASS,"L'excution des obligations ...", loc. cit.. note 1, p. 669.


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Before the legislatue acknowledged the injunction in Qubec law, the courts unsuccessfully took it upon themselves to do so. In 1875, the Court of Queen's Bench endeavoured to do this by equating an injunction with the writ of mandomus whose existence in Qubec law was not questioned. lffi This reasoning was subsequently rejected by the Chief Justice of the Superior Court, William Colim Meredith.Io7 After a thorough anaiysis of the nature of the injunction, Meredith C.J. concluded that "[ ...] however much we may regret it, we cannot, in an ordinary action behveen private individuals in Lower Cam&, coerce either of them by the English remtdy known as a writ of injunction". 'O8 The time was now ripe for the legislature to intemene, and it did so in 1878.1m But the new law was hardly an example of felicitous draftmg. Its most important shortcoming was that it did not squarely address its supposed raison d'tre : the need to equip judges with an effective means of granting interlocutory relief. Instead, a principal action in injunction was created within which an interlocutory injunction had to operate. Thus, no provisional relief could be sought unless the principal remedy was a finai or permanent inj~nction."~ The principal action in injunction which the new law created was limited to six cases. Among them was included the case in which "une personne fait une chose en violation d'un contrat crit ou d'une convention crite".lL1 Furthetmore, bemg limited to "enjoignant de suspendre" in these cases, it was clear that the legislature had only envisioned a prohibitive injunction. Moreover, from the very outset the courts made it clear that the new injunctive procedure was an exceptional recourse; it was to be interpreted narrowly in light of the restrictive common law criteria which govemed its application. As Papineau J. stated in an 1879 decision of the Supenor Court conceming the issuance of an interlocutory injunction : "Ce remde n'est accord que dans les cas o il n'y en a pas d'aunes en vertu de la loi, et o le tort apprhend serait irrparable".112 Hence, although it was possible to interpret the new law as allowing a judge to grant an injunction ordering a contractual debtor to specifically perform an obligation not to do, the restrictive common law shroud which enveloped the Qubec prohibitive injunction made any such possibility illusory. But as 1have already alluded to throughout this paper, the apparent obstacles which accompany the adoption of an Equitable English remedy hy Qubec civil law are mere decoys. That the common law mles surrounding the injunction accord a preference to money damages cannot be

106. Bourgoin v. MN.CR., (1875) 19 L.CJ. 57 (Q.B.).Per TASCHEREAU 65 : "S'il 1. at existe [l'injonction], la procdure est inattaquable; s'il n'existe pas, voyons s'il n'est pas l'quivalent du bref de mndnmus dont l'existence en ce oavs ne fait aucun doute". Antoine-Aim ori ion^^. at 60 then neatly mllapsed the distinction be;ween the two :' 0 u i code conrains s p i cial provisions in reference t w i s of mandrunus, and writs of injunction are substantially the o tt same as wis of mandnrm<s, the one king generally used to command the performance of some tt obligation, and the other 10 prevent the execution of some unlawful act, and both may be said to be included in the provisions wnceming wis of mandrunus". rt 107. See Carrer v. B r e d q , (1877) 3 RJ.Q. 113 (S.C.). 108. Id., p. 129. 109. Acte pourvoyant ce que le bref d'injonction puisse tre obtenu en certains cas, et rglant In procdure cenefin, S.Q. 1877-78, 41 Vict., c. 14. It was integrated into the Code of Civil Procedure in 1888. 110. Id.. as oer article 8. 1 i l . Id.; per article l(3). 112. Mallerte v. Ciry ofMonrreo1, (1880) 24 L.CJ. 264 (S.C.).

V L A ~ ~ O S

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denied. But to argue that this is why the injunction makes specific performance a subsidiaq remedy is to miss the mark,for the real inhibiting factor lies elsewhere : the irreconcilable tension between damages and specific performance.

In 1897, the new Code of Cvl Procedure expanded the scope of the ii prohibitive interlocutory injunction based in large part on the law of Califomia.'13 Rather than delineating specific instances in which interlocutory injunctive relief was available, the legislatwe enacted a regime based on the common law criteria of "senous or irreparable h m " and protecting the eficacy of fmal judgment.'14 Although the new Code placed an emphasis on the interlocutory injunction, it nevertheless somewhat cryptically left the permanent injunction intact.l15 But neither the doctrine nor the jurisprudence showed a real willimgness to use the injunction as a mechanism to enforce the specific performance of obligations not to do. Theu attitude fluctuated between ambivalence and hostility. It was inconsistent at the best of times.

113. The relevant section of the Code is article 957. It stipulates as follows: An.957. Un juge de la Cour suprieure peut accorder une ordonnance d'injonction interlocutoire, dans chacun des cas suivants : 1. Lors de l'mission du bref d'assignation : a) Lorsqu'il appert de la requte que le demandeur a dmit au remde demand, et que ce remde consiste en tout ou en partie empcher la commission ou la continuation d'une action ou opration, soit pour un temps, soit pour toujours; b) Lorsque la commission ou la continuation d'une action ou opration causerait des dgradations, ou un tort srieux ou irrparabe. 2. Au cours d'une instance : a) Lorsque la wmmission ou la continuation d'une action ou opration pendant l'instance causerait des dgradations, ou un tort srieux ou idparable; b) Lorsque la panie adverse fait w est sur le point de faire un acte attentatoire aux droits du demandeur ou aux dispositions de la loi touchant l'objet de la demande, qui est de nahue rendre le jugement inefficace. 114. These two criteria appear to have done more harm than g o d as far as limiting the wmmon law influence on the Qubec injunction. If the judiciary in Qubec hadbeen bold enough to read article 957 generously, it would have been able Io distance the Qubec interlocutory injunction h m iu common law cornterpan. n s would have greatly facilitated the use of the permanent injuncrion a a means of enforcing contrachial obligations not to do by freeing courts s from fonnal common law constraints when a ~ ~ l v i n g iniunction to substantive Oubec law. the But judicial rreativity was not lhe hailmark hi &e 2ay. and Qubec couns felt more smurc in mimickinc thc . . - iurisonidence of Anald-anadian iurisdiciions. In ihis way. c e m n mlcs of Eguity wbich were nowhere arculated intthe Code ma& their way inIo ~ u b e c law. For instance: th idea that an injunction is not available when money damages will do, a principle applying only with respect to a fmal injunction in common law jurdictions, was jukpmdentially acknowledged as applying to interlocutory injunctions in Qu6bec: see Pouios v. Scroggie, ((1903) 6 R.P. 1; also Ca& Newspaper Syndicare v. Monfreal News, (1907) 9 R.P. 78. 115. Allusion to the continued existence of the permanent injunction was made in article 968 of the 1897 Code which provided that : "Le jugement final adjuge sur les conclusions de la requte, ainsi que sur le mrite de l'action. Si le jugement est en faveur du requrant, il . .(emphasis added). prononce les injonctiom requises [ . Y

I i


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1. The Injunction as a Means of Specifically Enforcing Obligations To Do and Not To do

Micles 1065-66 C.C.L.C. are the Qubec equivalents of articles 1142-44 of the French Code civil. They state the following :
Art. 1065 Every obligation renders the dehtor liable in damages in case of breach of it on his part. m e creditor may, in cases wkick admit o it, demand also a specific f performance of the obligation, and that he be authorized to execute it at the debtor's expense; [...] (emphasis added)
Art. 1066 The creditor, without prejudice to his claim for damages, may require also. that anv thina which has been done in breach of the oblieation shdl be undone. ifthe nature o the case will permit; and the corn may orderthis to be effected by f its nfficers, or authorize the iniured partv to do it, at the expense of the other. (emphasis added)

A natural read'ig of the two sections suggests, u n l i e Baudouin116and Tancelin"' would have us believe, that the pnmary remedy for inexecution will be damages. It is only "in cases which admit of it" that specific performance m y be sought by the creditor. As the pernllssive verb "may" indicates, the creditor is in no way ohliged to do so, since he default regime, as the fust sentence of aricle 1065 clearly demonsrates, is that of damages.

116. See J.-L. B A U D OLes obligations, 3rd ed., Montral, Les ditions Yvoo Blais ~, Inc., 1989, no 679, p. 404, where the author writes: "Les articles 1065 et 1066 C.C. rdigs en des termes diffrents des articles 1142, 1143 et 1144 du Co& Napoldon, reconnaissent le droit l'excution en nature, le plaant apparemment sur le mme pied que le recours en dommages, mais limitent son exercice aux 'cas oui le oermettent..."'. Althoueh 1 amee with Baudouin that the wording of articles 106546 c.c.~.c. i d articles 1 1 4 2 4 C.N. is no; identical, 1 am not preo m d to sav that the ~ractical imwrt of this is to make the Qubec mvisions anv different than hctr ~rench counie~ans. subpon of ibis contention 1 note k>roicsor~ a s s ' ;comment thar In " k s articles 1065 et 1066 du code quebecois reprennent, en effct. la substance des articles 1142. s'il 1143 cl 1144 du code iran~ais: y a quelques difftrcnces. elles rsident, au dire des rdacteurs eux-mmes,dans le style ou I'arrangcmeni ci non par au niveau d a princips" (lm. crt. note 105. States thai 'Toute oblication de faire ou de ne nas faire se o. 666).Given that articles 1142 C.N. u rsout en dommages et intrts, en cas d'inexcution de la part du dbiteur"; and given that the source of t i article s e s from Pothier who affmed the medieval elossatm mition that onlv hi tm obligations Io give could give rise IO spxific performance. it E m s self-evident dm the first scntence of anicle 1065 C.C.L.C. was intended IO articulate the primacy of damages. Subsidiady. it provides that specific performance "may" be demanded by the d i t o r "in cases which admit of il". 1 noie with interest thaI this ts the interpretaiion u,hich Baudouin hirnsclf anie;in to havr formerly advocated. In "L'Excution spcifique des contrats en droit qubeco>, (1958-59) 5 McGillLJ. 108, JL BAUWUIN :. states at p. 110 :"L'expression 'dans les cas qui le permettent' se rapprte uniquement l'excution spcjfique et semble limiter son chnmp~#ap~licarion et la subordonner indirectement a u dommges-intrts possibles dans tous les cas" (emphasis added). 117. M. T A N C E L ~ , cil.. note 4, na 708, p. 422, states t a : "L'article 1065 C.C. est op. ht manifestement inspir par la Indition civiliste puisque l'excution de I'obligation mme est mise sur un pied d'galit avec l'excution par quivaleny la seule restriction &idente des cas qui le permettent". For the reasons aiready outlined in note 116, Tancel'm's interpretation does viole& Io the nalurai reading of anicle 1065of the Code. Funhermore. hi,: statement assumes tht spxific performance is consistent wtih the civilian tradition. Yei it w m s thai guchan assumption has as ifs starting point the canonicai d&e of pacta sunt semanda, an idea which cl&sicd Roman law would h a d y be mmfortable with.


Specifi P e r f o m n c e in the C i d I a w


What, then, is meant by the phrase "in cases which admit of it"? 1 suggest that it is simply a shorthand form for the nemo praecise d e . Like in France, dochinal writers in Qubec have mditionally defmed the mle rigorously. Mignault and Faribault defme the basic mle as being one which denies the creditor recourse to execution in kind when the obligation is one that can only be perfomed hy the debtor h i m ~ e l f , land when physical violence against the debtor would be required '~ to compel him to act against his ~ i l l . "Following Pothier, some authors have ~ stated the mle even more categorically, denying al1 foms of compulsion on the debtor to induce him to perform. This "classical" position has been articulated in these tems :
Toutes les obligations de faire ou de ne pas faire quelque chose ne donnent point au crancier le droit de contraindre le dbiteur prcisment faire ce qu'il s'est oblig de faire mais elles se rsolvent en dommages-intrtssi le db'iteur ne satisfait pas son obligati~n.'~~

If, on the other hand, an obligation to do or not to do can be performed by a third party, then the creditor is entitled to seek specific As articles 1065 and 1066 illustrate, the relationship between damages and specific performance is a delicate one. On the one hand, specific performance is a permissible remedy for a creditor to pursue; yet on the other hand, specific performance which would in any way compel the debtor h i s e l f to execute his promise is seen as an impermissible recourse. This tension has its root in Roman law itself, which came to recognize specific performance only after canonical dochines, with respect to the sanctity of the spoken word, left their mark on the law

118. Couru have been panicularly hostile Io personal service contracts. The leading case in this area is a Supreme Coun decision: Dupr Qunrries Ltd v. Dupr, [1934] S.C.R. 528. Rinfret J., speaking per curiam at p. 531, States: Mais le contrar de louage de service, cause du caractre personnel des obligations qu'il camporre, ne se prte pas une condamnation l'excution spcifique. [...] L'appelante ne pouvait e physiquement contrainte garder I'intim son service; pas plus que I'intim ne pouvait tre contraint rester au service de l'appelante. II v a l une auestiw de volont et de libert humaine contre lesauelles l'excution ;iireae est impuissante". This holding bas been consistentlv followed bv Qubec courts. See. for examoleiaioie v. Canuo. . . . . 11954) c.s.-341. 119. P.-B. MIGNAULT. LeDroit civil canudien, 1.5, Montral. Librairie de droit et de jurispmdence, 1901, p. 406,describes the hvo critena in these terms : -Eue Il'excution force de l'obligation] ne l'est pas [possible] lorsque le fait promis est de telle nature qu'il ne peut tre excut utilement pour le crancier. qu'autant que c'est le dbiteur qui l'accomplit en personne. [...] -Il en est de mme lorsque l'excution effective de l'obligation n'est possible qu' la condition d'exercer des violences physiques sur la personne du dbiteur. The jurispmdence of the period supports this position. With respect to obligations to do, see Lombard v. Varennes, (1921) 32 B.R. 164, where Lamothe C.J. States at p. 166: "Une cour de justice ne peut, par injonction, forcer un dfendeur faire un acte quelconque. Sous le droit actuel, encore plus que sous l'ancien dmit, le cogere ad factwn rpugne. L'excution d'une ordonnance de ce genre ne peut se faire qu'au moyen de violence physique sur la personne". Pitre v. Association athltique d'amateurs M ~ ~ o M / C .(1910) 20 B.R. 41 applies the same principle to an o obligation not t do. vol. 2. Montral. 1832. 120. H. BEAUBIEN. Trait sur les Lois civiles du Bas-Ca&. p. 193. 121. See. for example, Boudreaulr v. Cie hydraulique de Sr-Felicien, (1923) 36 B.R. 455.


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of the late Empire. Unlike Christian courts which went as far as specifcally enforcing a promise to many through the sanction of excommunication, civil courts drew the line at promises to give. The nemo praecise pnnciple denied a civil c o u al1 means of compulsion or persuasion which had the effect of acting on the debtor's will, whether directly through acual physical compulsion, or indirectly through money penalties similar to those represented by the modem French doctrine of astreinte. Seen in this light, the elements at work in aiticles 1065-66 of the Civil Code can be better understood. While allowing a creditor, through the imperium of the court to force a debtor 10 specically perform, the Code denies al1 forms of compulsion to achieve this end. But there is an apparent contradiction at work here, for how can a court compel a debtor to perform an obligation to do or not to do when it is in effect denied all requisite means of coercion? This tension manifests itseif in the jurisprudence of the period. While it is undoubtedly m e that it was exacerbated by the common law critena which courts refused to dissociate from the Qubec injunction, this impediient is only indicative of the geater dilemma which plagues article 1065 : how to balance two incompatible remedies. Paradoxically enough, it seems that by canying into Qubec pnvate law the dogrnatic preference which the common law showed for damages, lZ2Qubec couas were unconsciously affimiing the primacy of money damages so characteristic of Roman law. Could it be that the Qubec injunction is more "civilian" than modem writers have cared to admit? But Qubec courts, like their French counterpans, soon began to show more of a wiliiigness to gant specific performance. To enforce their decisions, they inevitably resorted to the injunction. The "in cases which admit of it" portion of article 1065 began to play a greater role in the mind of Qubec jurists. A slow but graduai rediscovery of the canonical pacta sunt semanda doctrine which had received limited recognition in the 1867 codification of article 1065 worked itself to the forefront. Strong evidence of this can be found in a lime of jurisprudence beginning in 1921 and continuing nght up to the coming-into-force of the new

122. 1 cite thtee decisions which squarely asserted the exceptional nature of speciiic performance in Qubec law. Town of Grand'Mre v. Hydraulique de Crand'Mre, (1908) 17 B.R. 83. Cross J. writes at 93 (emphasii added) : "In general, it is m e , the failure to perfonn an obligation is resolved into a responsihility in damages. The cases in which specificpeformnce can be demnnded are excepriom to the d e [...y. Central Railway Co. of Cano& v. Wills, (1913) 23 B.R. 126, conimed by the Privy Council in (1915) 24 B.R. 102. Per Gewais J.A. at p. 151 (emphasis added) :"Becanse, in our law, as we have had occasion to leam, and in contradistinction io the cornmon law of Engiand, there can be no sudi thing as 'specific performance' of the obligation to do or not to do. [...]Inthisprovince, the rule is char non-execution of obligations resolves itself into damages, in pursuance of article 1065 c.c.". Even as late as 1957, the Court of Appeal, per Casey J., Bissonnene and Owen JI. concun'ing, suggests in no unclear terms that specific performance is available to a creditor only if damages will not do: Petitioner submits that when there is a breach of an obligation, specifc performance is the d e and damages the exception; also that an injunction should be refused only when the tecourse in damages is equally as beneficial as would be specific performance. 1cannot accept thesepropositions. So far as the fmt is concemed, 1am satisfied that the converse is a more accmte statement of onr law: with respect io the second, 1 thii it more c o m t to say that an injunction should no1 be gronted unless ir be show" thar rhe loss or injury complained of connor be made good by pecuniary condemmion (emphasis added) (GuaranteedPure Milk Co. v. Potry, [1957] B.R. 54, p. 56).


Spdific Perfo,,nmce i the C v l Lm> n ii


Code of Civil Procedure. First, Martin J.'s strong dissent in Lombard v. Varennes attempted to limit the restncting influence of the nemo praecise mle on the injunc-

tion. His acerbic and uncompromising tone is wonh noting :

Much is said about restraining personal Iibeny and the hallowed character of the subject against whose sacred body no acts of physical force should be used to execute a judgment. [...] 1do no believe it is the law of this country that a man can with impunity do what he solemnly obliged himself no1 Io do and when the party whose rights are so unjustly affected by such wonghil act of the other contmcting party being persisteci in, applies to the proper Court for an order enjoining the defendant fmm continuing to do what he bound himself no1 tu do, 1 do no1 believe it lies in the mouth of such defendant Io say the Court cannot give any such order because its enforcement and execution would do hun violence and interfere with the sanctity of his personal liberty.'23

In the same year, the Supreme Corn a f f m e d a decision of the Qubec Court of Kmg's Bench granting a permanent prohibitive injunction orderiug a pulp miIl to stop emitting nauseous odours and fumes into the environment. lZ4 Although Duff J. has been criticized for refusing to dissociate the Qubec injunction from its common law equivalent, Iz5 the Supreme Court decision is significant in that it accepts the injunction as an appropriate mechanism through which a court can enforce its decisions. Qubec courts interpreted ihis to mean that a prohibitive injunction could be issued against a debtor of an obligation no1 to do without violating the nemopraecise principle. The Court of King's Bench developed this argument in Qubec Counfy Railway C o . v. Montcalm Lond Co., Iz6 where it held that a judgment condemning a debtor to do something is not susceptible of execution "sans autoriser le crancier suppler au dfaut de la parrie ~ondamne",'~' but observing in obiter that :
Le cas serait diffrent s'il s'agissait, comme dans la cause de Brown v . Paper Co., d'une obligation de ne pas faire. Quand l'obligation est de ne pas faire, si la pmie condamne fait ce que le tribunal lui a dfendu de faire, elle peut tre punie pour sa dsobissance ou,si l'on veut, pour son mpris de l'injonction du tribunal. On peut alors faire prononcer contre elle la contrainte par corps [...] Mais quand I'obligation en est une de faire, il ne peut tre question de contrainte par corps, ce qui serait l'emprisonnement pour dette, sans compter que la convainte par corps ne procurerait par l'excution de l'obligation mme. Nemo potesr praecise cogi ad facrwn.'"


Even though such reasoning seems rather artificial, it was followed by Qubec couas which were by now more open to suggestions that a debtor should be held


123. (1921) 32 B.R. 165, pp. 169-70. Martin 1 comments are reserved to obligations not : s to do because, as it should be recalled, the 1897 Code of Civil Procedure only anthorized a court to grant prohibitive injunctions. 124. Ca& Paper Co. v. Brown, (1922) 63 S.C.R. 243; &g (1921) 31 B.R. 507. uf 125. Id., at p. 252, for example, D f J. implies that an injunction is available to a creditor only when damages are an insufficient remedy : "Where the injury m the plaintiff s legal rights is small and is capable of king estimated in money, and can be adequately compensated by a money payment [...] the court may find and properly h d in these circumstances a reason for declining to intede= by exercising its powers in personam". 126. (1928) 46 B.R. 262. 127. Id., as per the headnote. 128. Id., W . 6 6 7 (TELLIER 2 1).


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to his word and not simply liable in da mage^.'^^ Professor Mass has depicted the mood of the &y in a fitting sentence :''[L']injonction mise contre un dbiteur afm de le contraindre excuter son obligation de ne pas faire ne contrarie pas le pnncipe de la libert i n d i v i d ~ e l l e " . ' ~ ~

Prior to the enacment of the new Code of Civil Procedure, there was lively dehate as to whether the mandatory injunction existed in Qubec law.13' Al1 such concems became a thing of the past, though, when the current Code came into force in September of 1966. Article 751 offers the following definition of the injunction :
An injunction is an order of the Supenor Coun or of a judge thereof, enjoining a person, hi officers, agents or ernployees, not to do or to cease doing, or, in cases

which admit of it, to perform a particular act or operation, under pain of al1 legal penalties. It was now possible, at least procedurally, for a court to resort to an injunction to enforce both obligations to do and not to do. But the courts have for the most part resisted this temptation.13' In fact, in some instances they have even attempted to renonnce their earlier position, claiming that an injunction cannot be used to enforce an obligation not to do.133 The breakthrough, however, came i the 1980 Qubec Court of Appeal n decision in Crawford v. The Court granted the plaintiff's demand for a permanent mandatory injunction as a means to protect a propnetary nght of way. More significantly, though, the Court of Appeal, after consulting the Commissioners' R e p o ~ t , " ~concluded that the mandatory injunction in article 751 129. See, for insiance, Sfernlieb v. Coin, LI9621 B.R. 440 where the court held per Tremblay C.J. that: "L'obligation de l'appelant est une obligation de ne pas faire. Les intims demandent l'excution de l'obligation mme. C'est un cas qui le permet, puisque nous pouvons ordonner un iusticiahle de ne oas wser un acte". 130. G. MASS, /oc. cir., ;oteLl05, p. 679. 131. See C . SHEPPARD. Mandatorv Iniunctions Exist in Qubec Law?". (1963) 9 A : "DO McGill LJ. 41; R. T H I B A U D ~ U , "~'injonctiok &datoire", (1963)'23 R. du B. '460; Ad P. C ~ L E R . "Mandatow Iniunctions in the Rovince of Qubec", (1963) 23 R. du B. 471. 132. Sc ~remb& v. UnivrrsikJ iir.Shrrhrooke. (i9731C S . 999. where the coun reiccrated a smct mSmor>raeci%e forbiddinp ail compulsion azainst the debtor of an ohlization tu mle do. 1 cite the opekive part of the headnoc: "Un dbiteur nesaurait tre condamn l'excntion effectived'une obligation de faire qu' condition que le fait promis puisse tre utilement excut par une autre personne que le dhiteur[.l" 133. See Teinturerie Qubec Inc. v. Louzon, Il9671 B.R. 41. lhis was a 3 to 2 decision, however - Chmuette and Saivas JJ. dissentine shmlv. Funhermore. the case revresents an older era of jurisprudence. There would appear to be little, or I should Say much less, hesitation today to gant a prohibitive injunction in order to compel a debtor t perfonn an obligation not o to do. 134. [1980]C.A. 583. 135. The Commissioners' observations with respect to article 751 of the l%S C.C.P. make it clear that the mandatory injunction is a pmedure which is to serve the substantive Lw cona ceming the specific enforcement of obligations to do as governed by anicle 1065 C.C.L.C. See Commissioners' Report, Code ofCivil Procedure, article 75 1 (to be found in Bill 20 (1st reading), 4th Sess., 27th h g . Qu., 1965, at 154a). where the following comments are made conceming mandatory injunctions :



Specific Performance in the C i d Low


C.C.P. was not an exceptional recouse. As Turgeon J. put it, "[Cle [l'injonction mandatoire] n'est pas un recours de caractre exceptionnel. C'est un recours mis la disposition des justiciables pour faire respecter un droit".'36 The importance of ihis decision is twofold. Fust, it directly contradicts the common law notion that an injunction is an exceptional remedy, to be granted only when damages are an insufficient means of compensating a party. In other words, the Court of Appeal appears to have paved the road for distinguishing between procedure and substantive law. And by classifying the injunction as belonging to the former category, the Court indicates that it is to serve the ends of substantive law and not vice versa. In this way, the injunctive procedure in Qubec is to dissociate itself from the restrictive critena which have limited its appIication out of a wncem for presewing substantive common law principles pertainiig to the nature of remedial recouse. 13' The second thing worih noting is that Crawford v. Fitch, by asserting that an injunction is simply a means which a party can employ "pou faire respecter un droit", implicitly sanctions, and in not so many words actually encourages a change of judicial attitude with respect to specificaily enforcing obligations to do. The hint has b e n gradually seized by Superior Court judges. In Proprits Cit Concordia v. Banque Royale du Camda,13*for instance, Hurtubise 1. granted the
The first question concemed the defnition of injunctions : should the Code o Civil f Procedure recognize the so-called 'mandatory injunction' which commands Io do something and provides for the cases where it may be ordered? Because this question is intimately bound up with that of the sanction for obligations to do. which derives h m substantive law, it seems that il is no1 up to the Code of Procedure to cover this completely. [...] Thus the so-called mandatory injunction will undoubtedly be possible, but it will be leff ro the prudence and wisdom o the judges ta f oppreciate each case, taking into accounr o course the rules o substanrive lm, f f which musi opply (emphasis added). m i s approach endeavours to dissociate the mandatory injunction from the resmctive common law mles which would othenvise plague its existence. The question, therefore, now becornes one of detennining the substantivelaw position on the matter. But this task is hardly an easy one given the conflicting principles which article 1065 C.C.L.C. codifies. 136. Crawford v. FiIch, supra, note 134, p. 585. 137. It should bc noted that to this extent, Crmford v. Fitch challenges the Supreme Coun's decision in Trudel v. Cloirol ofCanada Inc... 119751 2 S.C.R. 236. where the Couti held . at p. 246, per Pigeon J., that Article 752 of the Code ofCivil Procedure stalesthat onemav demand an iniunction by action. The ~"cumskces in which one may do so a not specifid. Con& sequently it is a maner of a discretionary power to be exercised having in mind the principles established in common Iaw jurisdictions, since this is a remedy taken h m them. But given the present state of Qubec law, 1 suggest that it is highly unlikely that the Supreme Coun would reverse the position a d v m e d by the Cou? of Appeal if the oppominily arose. To do so would not oniy ovetium Cranford v. Fitch, but also a series of subsequent appellate cases which have affmed its reasoning. SeeRoyol Bank o Canada v. Proprits Cit Concordia Lre, f [1983] R.DJ. 524 (C.A. Qu.); and Sacit Coino& v. Armstrong, [19&] C.A. 23. 138. [1981] C.S. 812; afd by the Coun of Appeai in [19831 R.DJ. 524. Aithough Montgomery I.A.'s ambivalent remark at 528 that there is "no express mle of substantive L w a that applies in the present case" may be seen as revening back to an olda jurisprudence which relies on substantive common Lw d e s to limit the availability of an injunction with respect to a obligations to do, such an interpretation is expressly ned out by the next sentence, where Montgomery I.A. adds :"ln my opinion,they [the principles commonly obsetved in England] are merely rules ofprudence. at least in this province" (emphasis added).


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(1993) 24 R.GB. 515-554

plaintiff's request for a mandatory interlocutory injunction, therehy forcing the Royal Bank to continue providmg services in accordance with its coniract. His reasoning is reveaiiig :
1 nous faut donc nous tourner vers le droit substantif pour vrifier si oui ou non ce 1 recours est ouvert la requrante. En ralit, cet aiticle 751 C.P.[C.] nous renvoie aux principes gnraux des anicles 1065 et 1066 du Code civil [,..]Lies principes du droit substantif, notre avis, ne s'opposent pas l'excution spcifique en nature d'une obligation de faire. [...] Notons encore que si l'injonction tue son origine du common low dont on peut s'inspirer, il ne faut pas confondre la procdure et le fond ni l'excution spcifique en nature de l'article 1065 C.C. avec le specific perform n c e du droit anglais.'39

This holding expressly rejects Benot J.'s earlier decision to the effeci that a mandatory injunction was inappropnate under these circumstancesbecause "[Iles tribunaux ne peuvent s'immiscer dans de tels services personnels".140 Given that Hurtubise J.'s holding was affmed hy the Court of Appeal,14' it can be safely said that Benot J.'s reasoning belongs to a jurispmdence of the past.14' In the domain of permanent mandatory injunctions, the junspmdence has adopted a similar attitude, showing a greater willingness to use the injunctive procedwe as a means of specifically enforcing obligations to do. One of the clearest enunciations of this new judicial attitude was offered by the Superior Court in Cie de Construction Belcourt v. Golden Griddle Pancake House ~ t d , where the ' ~ ~ defendant was ordered to reopen a restaurant which it had ceased to operate due to insuff~cient revenue. In issuing the injunction, Steinberg J. constmed the phrase "in cases which admit of it" in article 1065 C.C.L.C. as ohliging "the presidig magistrate to make this second and subjective determination having regard to the nature of the act, the personality and capacity of the debtor and the enforceability of the proposed order".


139. Id., pp. 815-816 (HURNBISE J.C.S.). 140. ProprirsCit ConcordiaLte v.BangueRoyale du Camdn, [1980]C.S. 118, p. 128 (BENO~T 1.). 141. See supra, note 138. 142. The more reshictive approach to gmting interlwutory injunctions in a contractual context based on maditional common Lw criteria can be wimessed in COf v. Fonin, [1979] R.P. a 218 (C.S.). There, Harvey J. at p. 222 sets down the following guideline: Une jurisprudence constante [...] dmontre que l'injonction interlocutoire est un remde exceptionnel qui ne doit tre accord que s'il n'y a pas d'autre recours appropri. Ds qu'une action en dommages-intrts est possible I...] l'injonction interlocutoire doit tre rejete. 143. Cie Consrrucrion Belcourt v. Golden Griddle Pancake House Ltd., [1988] R.J.Q. 716 (S.C.) [hereinafter Belcourr].There are simila decisions which predate this one. See Loews Horel Monneal Inc. v. Concordia Cify Propenies Ltd, S.C. Mtl., no 500-05012189-799, 2 August 1976; Losalle Automobile Inc. v. Chrysler Canada Lte, C.A. Mtl., no 5CNW-00033672, 23 Fehniary 1974. Snme decisions, however, while showing a greater willingness to gram specific performance and enforce it thmugh an injunction, have nonetheless been hesitant in cornpletely divorcing the injunctive pmcednre from its Equitahle roots. In Brasserie Lnbarr Lre v . Ville de Monnal, [1987] R.J.Q. 1141 (S.C.), for example, Lvesque J. found it appropriate to consider whether the party petitioning for a permanent injunction ha corne to corn with "clean hands". 144. Belcourr, id., p. 725. It is interesting Io observe the degree of acceptance which the injunction has been accorded hy Qubec courts. In one case, the Superior Court went as far as suggesting that in some circumstancesan injunction might be the only appropriate remedy avail-


Specific Performance in the Civ Low


But despite the gradua1 trend in the jurisprudence to perceive the injunction as an acceptable means of coerciog performance by a debtor of a contractuai obligation to do or not to do, one pivotal question has remained unanswered : Does any form of coercion oot fly in the face of the nemo praecise principle which article 1065 C.C.L.C. codifies? The case law does not address this issue. It simply assumes that the injunction is an acceptable way of enforcing a creditor's rights, leaving it to the "pnidence and wisdom" of the presiding judge to d e t e d e whether the facts of the case at hand will permit snch recourse. But how is a prohibitive or mandatory injunction, whether permanent or interlocutory, consistent with the maxim Nemo praecise potest cogi ad factum? Writing in 1867, Henry Beaubien maintained that :
I.'effct dc I'obligaiiui! .p.une personne contrxte dc faire ou ne p s faix quelque 4 chox ,c rdut1 en domniaci intrtic fauted'exccutiun de I'ohltgdtion aprs qu'elle a t mise en demeure de le faire. Le > iuee sur cene demande-nrescrii un &in temps dans lequel le dbiteur sera tenu de faire ce qu'il a promis, et faute par lui de le faire dans le temps il le condamne aux dpens, dommages-intrts.'45
~ ~ ~~

Read in this way, anicle 1065 C.C.L.C. is incompatible with al1 forms of compnlsion against the debtor. If the debtor's participation is in any way necessary to fulfil the obligation, then a court cannot compel him to do so. To argue that compulsion is inappropriate only in intuitu personae contracts just refines the problem. It loses sight of the fact that the nemo praecise mle was intended to reinforce the primacy of damages, a remedy which is more compatible with the civil law principles inherited from Rome than the consensualism grafted on to the law of obligations as a consequence of canonical influence. What, then, is the solution to this impasse? It seems to me that an outright disavowal of the non-compulsion principle wonld bestow more coherence on the law. In this way, the notion of specific performance could be squarely placed in a position of superiority vis--vis damages. The only limiting factor which a coun need take cognizance of is the extent to which the debtor is able to effectively perform his obligation in kind. The standard should be one geared to take account of practical constraints and obstacles. In short, efficacious performance should be a court's measuring stick, not blanket prohibitions based on the sanctity of the debtor's person. If consensualism is the source of contractual obligations in Qubec, then the doctrine of pacta sunt senanda dictates that a debtor perfonn his obligation without flagging individual libew as a mitigating factor.



able to a creditor :Restaurant Jasmo Inc.v. Drouin. 119861R J O 435. This case i svmntomatic . s . . .. . . .. of the diminished importance which cou- in Qubec have confetre on the nemproecise mle. Nevertheless. both doctrine and - . iuIisnmdence have been less bold than their French cwntemarts ( s e above, section V.D.1). and remain unwilluig to actually force an individual to specifically oerform his obligation. The line has been drawn at cornrate bodies which have no versonal ideniity. Steinberg J.-(~elcourr,supra) offers the orthodo<explanation for ti reticenci: "Theabhorhs rence of the coercion that may be required to compel the athlete t compete, or the musician to o perfand the operation of-the s m i l one man business should not be extended to enwmpass an orderto compel the performance of obligations by moral persons who by theirmagninide Danscend the will of one person". 145. Trait sur les Lois civiles du Bas-Canada, op. crr ,note 120, p. 192 (empbasis added).


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(1993) 24 R.G.D. 515-554

In Qubec, the juispmdence of the 1980s has undouhtedly relativized the idea that no one can he forced to act against his will in order to specifically perform his promise. But there has heen no clear break with the nemo praecise nile, and this has made it extremely difficult for Qubec courts to assert the primacy of specific performance. The text of article 1065 C.C.L.C. has been the chief source of the prohlem. It is only with the clearer formulation of principle found in the new Civil Code o Qubec that we can expect many of the interpretive prohlems f which have heretofore prevented the evolution of a jurispmdence constante to he resolved. As far as the "English nahue of the injunction is concemed, it is true that it has complicated maiters by importing "foreign" niles of law into the general theory of obligations. But if the reasoning of Crawford v. Fitch15' is faithfully applied, then this prohlem will eventually disappear. For those, however, who still fmd the injunction offensive to civilian sensibiiities militating against physical c ~ m p u l s i o n , '1 offer two consolmg remarks. Fust, the contempt of court pro~~ ceeding envisioned by the Code o Civil Procedure allows a judge to suhject the f hreaching party to either a fine or i m p ~ i s o n r n e n tthe~ ~ , ~ objective k i n g to have the court order respected, not to punish the debtor per se. And secondly, the principle applied in contempt proceedings is a stricrissimijuris one based on the criminal law standard requiring proof of mens rea beyond a reasonahle doubt.ls6 Hence, the debtor's liberty is adequately protected while at the same time having regard for the ceditor's rights. In the fmai analysis, then, one cannot help but conclude that the injunction is a more effective means of securing specific performance than the French asrreinre.

153. Supra, note 134. 154. Physical compulsion is presently possible in Qubec where it is specifically sanctioned by Law. For its application in the field of labour law, see Alvetta-Corneau v. Association &sprofesseurs de Ligmp, S.C. Mtl., no 50005M134W-836, 10 June 1987, as summarized in J.E. 87-807. It has also been auulied with rescect to articles 83 and 83.2 of the Chorre des droits .. et IiknPs de lu penonne. Sec Commission dec droits de b personne du Qubec v . Soriti d'lertrolyse PI & chimie Alcon. 119871 R.L. 277, wherc the Quebec Coun of A p w l issucd a pemaneni mandatory injunction ordering that a plaitiff whohad iost his empi$nent be reinsated. 1 note here with interest that even English Law, despite its fixation with damages, has found it appropriate to grant an injunction in order to specificay enforce an intuitu personae contracmal obligation. See the ouo famous cases of Lumi9 v. Wagner, (1852) 42 Ail E.R. 687 (Ch. D.) and Wnrner Brothers Pictures v. Nelson, [19371 K.B. 209. Compare Lombard v. Varennes, supra, note 119 which denied simila recourse in Qubp. 155. Article 761 C.C.P. states that: Any person named or demibed in an o r d a of injunction. who i n f i g e s or refuses to obey it, and any person not described therein who lmowingly contravenes i t i s guilty of contempt of court and may be condemned to afine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars, with or witkouf imprisonmenr for a period up i one year, and o without prejudice to m v e r damages. Such penalties may be repeatedly inflicted until the contravening Party obeys the injunction (emphasis added). [...] 156. See Imperin1 Oil v. Tanguny, [1971] C.A. 109.