December 2011

Reforms slated for the Code of Civil Procedure

By Patrick Choquette

At the National Assembly on September 29, 2011, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec introduced a draft bill to enact the Code of Civil Procedure.

To lessen the length and costs of legal proceedings and in an effort to foster more settlements, the draft bill supports the increased involvement of judges, who will be included in the process from the very beginning to ensure that the parties consider all dispute resolution options (i.e. mediation, negotiation, arbitration).

The new Code of Civil Procedure will also reaffirm the principle of proportionality by which the legal steps, processes and means of proof must be proportional to the nature and complexity of the case and ultimate aim of the request with regards to the costs and extent of the proceedings.

The bill calls for the evidence to be communicated when filing the initiating proceedings and will also provide a better framework for pre-trial examinations, limiting their duration based on the scope of the matter at hand.

In addition, the Code will foster recourse to a common expert, who will support the court in the decision-making process.

Finally, the maximum amount claimed in the Small Claims Division will progressively increase over three years from $7 000 (current maximum) to $10 000 and then to $15 000.

The new Code of Civil Procedure could be adopted within a year.