Joint debt, which implies that the debtors to a same debt can be only be compelled to perform the obligation up to their share of the debt, is the applicable regime to a contractual relationship unless otherwise provided. Therefore, if two debtors owe an amount of $ 1,000 to a creditor jointly and there is no provision to this effect in the contract, the creditor can only claim an amount of $ 500 to each of them and will fully bear the risk of bankruptcy and insolvency.

A creditor will not be able to hold liable a debtor to a joint debt for the full amount, since it’s fragmented. This type of obligation is provided for by section 1518 C.C.Q.:

“1518. An obligation is joint between two or more debtors where they are obligated to the creditor for the same thing but in such a way that each debtor may only be compelled to perform the obligation separately and only up to his share of the debt.An obligation is joint between two or more creditors where each creditor may only exact the performance of his share of the claim from the common debtor.”

For example, in matters of succession, the heirs to an estate are not liable for the full amounts of debts remaining unpaid by the liquidator. Indeed, they are liable only in proportion to the share they received respectively1. Moreover, in principle, as soon as there is more than one tenant on a lease, the obligation to pay rent is joint, except in the case of a married couple2 or if otherwise provided for in a clause in the lease. Indeed, many leases provide for a solidary obligation. Thus, in the case of a tenant’s departure, the remaining tenants may be faced with a claim for the full amount of the rent.

With the precious collaboration of Ms. Marylise Soporan, articling student.

1823 C.C.Q.
2397 C.C.Q.