Just for a laugh, safe from creditors | An extraordinary agreement precipitated the decision

An extraordinary agreement concluded 20 years ago by Gilbert Rozon with an archivist precipitated the decision of the Just for Laughs Group (JPR), in debt and in the red, to protect itself from its creditors in court.

The agreement in question allowed André Gloutnay to have a “lifetime” position with the now insolvent comedy giant. Despite everything, the archivist was fired on February 7, 2019, since Mr. Rozon, targeted by accusations of sexual misconduct, was no longer in the picture after selling his company for 65 million. The complainant was 53 years old at the time.

This led to a legal battle which concluded on February 8 when the Quebec Court of Appeal concluded that Mr. Gloutnay was entitled to compensation of at least $666,500. With interest and other fees, the sum exceeds $850,000. Last February 27 – a week before JPR turned to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law –, the group’s former archivist registered a legal mortgage on the building which houses its head office, on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, in the Ville-Marie district.

“It was an accelerator,” confirms trustee Christian Bourque, of the firm PwC, which supervises the judicial restructuring. There was a need to protect the company from creditors. »

A legal hypothec allows a creditor to have a right to the value of the building, putting the claims of senior lenders at risk. In this case, it concerns, among others, the National Bank. According to the property assessment roll, the value of JPR’s property is close to 5 million.

To protect himself

Reached by telephone by The Press, Mr. Gloutnay directed questions about his steps towards his lawyers, stressing that he was still “distraught” about everything that had happened since his dismissal. It’s an everyday article The duty published on February 27 and reporting the financial problems of the Quebec humor specialist which prompted his lawyers to act.

“This article led us to speak with Mr. Gloutnay to tell him that we had to find a way to secure his debt because, if we trust the article, things are not going well on the side of JPR, explains Me Bruno-Pierre Allard, from the Chabot mediators lawyers firm. We therefore wanted to secure our client so that he could benefit from a guaranteed claim. »

Archivist at JPR since 1993, Mr. Gloutnay sued several entities of the company and other legal entities, including founder Gilbert Rozon, for moral damages, loss of salary until retirement and loss of insurance plan. The archivist had a salary of $60,000 at the time of his dismissal.

In 2004, an agreement between MM. Gloutnay and Rozon anticipated that the archivist would have employment “for life” and that all of his “mounted collections” – videos, autographs, books and artifacts – would ultimately belong to JPR. The Superior Court of Quebec found that the group was bound by this agreement despite the arrival of new owners and managers.

The company appealed this decision, but was rejected by the Court of Appeal on February 8. Even though Judge Geneviève Marcotte considers that this is an “unusual” and “unique” case, she rules in favor of the complainant. The magistrate recalls that the agreement reached in 2004 promised “job for life” to Mr. Gloutnay.

Millions in pain

JPR has debts of 42 million from several dozen suppliers, according to documents prepared by PwC. The National Bank is the largest secured creditor (17 million). According to our information, Mr. Rozon is still waiting to receive 15 million, an unsecured debt, following the sale five years ago. This is a balance of payment. The overdue amounts of entities belonging to the CH Group – which owns 25% of JPR – total nearly 6 million.

The rest of JPR is owned by Bell (26%) and Creative Artists Agency (49%).

By sheltering itself from its creditors, on Tuesday, the fallen comedy giant slashed 70% of its workforce – 75 people – in addition to canceling the Just For Laughs/Just For Laughs festival scheduled for next summer. to Montreal. The announcement also sets the table for an investment solicitation and sale process, meaning the company could be sold in whole or in pieces.

Learn more

  • 1983
    First edition of the Just for Laughs festival

    Accused of sexual misconduct, Gilbert Rozon sells his business.

source site-60