January 2016

Québec's new code of civil procedure spells major changes

By Genevieve Forget Lawyer, Frédéric Savard-Scott

Québec's new Code of Civil Procedure will come into effect on January 1, 2016. The Code is an important tool for lawyers since it sets out the rules that apply in the province's courts of law: the Court of Québec, the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal.

More specifically, the Code addresses a series of procedural aspects, including court deadlines, the jurisdiction of the courts based on the type of action and the amounts involved, the process from the time an action is brought and up to the trial, the conduct of the hearing itself and the practices to communicate and file court documents.

The government undertook a major revision of the law, and, for the past several months, the members of the PFD team have taken part in a series of training sessions to prepare for the shift.

In adopting the law, the Québec legislator is seeking to implement a different approach to civil justice. In fact, the Code is nothing less than a change in culture. As the former chief justice of the Superior Court expressed in a speech: "Doing things differently is thinking and working from a prevention and dispute resolution perspective from the outset. This means discussing and negotiating." [Translation]

Attorneys will now have to take an approach to limit the disputes that go to trial from the earliest stages of every case and until their resolution. The aim is for lawyers to discuss, negotiate and create a trust relationship between the parties, specifically through information sharing. They must be attuned to the needs of their clients and the opposing parties and ensure that they take part in the development and implementation of solutions.

Many changes are expected, particularly with regards to delays, examinations, the role of experts and the use of alternative methods to resolve disputes.

The attorneys and support staff at PFD are ready for the challenge and will continue to provide their clients with simple, practical and innovative solutions that are tailored to their needs.