Speeding up civil proceedings, is that coming soon?

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Simon Jolin-Barrette. Photo: Twitter

“Improving access to justice”: this is what Bill 40 promises, which the minister Simon Jolin Barrette filed in the National Assembly last week.

The aim of this bill is to give information technology a prominent place within the notarial profession, in addition to the proposal to amend the Code of Civil Procedure.

“Often the working methods in the legal system no longer match the current needs and realities and they have to be modernized. This bill fits in with that logic,” emphasizes the Minister of Justice.

Simon Jolin-Barrette clarified to the National Assembly that the bill aims to legalize notarial deeds on technological support. This measure was already adopted on April 1, 2020, at the start of the pandemic, but only temporarily. It was then extended in September 2021 for a period of one year.

To this end, a central digital register will be established, managed by the Chambre des notaires, in which all technological notarial archives will be kept until they are deposited with the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec.

Change the Code of Civil Procedure

Bill 40, as filed yesterday, also proposes several amendments to the Civil Procedure Code, in particular to give the Quebec Court exclusive rights in civil disputes under $70,000.

Recall that Quebec raised this threshold to $85,000 before it was rejected by the Supreme Court. The bill nevertheless proposes that the Québec Court be empowered to hear and hear cases in which the disputed amounts are between $70,000 and $100,000 at the same time as that of the Supreme Court.

If passed, Bill 40 should also speed up civil proceedings in the Quebec court, especially in mediation cases.

The simplified rules of procedure proposed by the Minister of Justice for the Court of Québec are as follows:

  • set deadlines for completing certain procedural steps;
  • establish special rules of evidence, including the submission of expert opinions not customary in court authorization;
  • ensure registration for investigation and assessment by Registrar;
  • increase the limit below which it is prohibited to conduct an investigation for discovery to $50,000;
  • allow investigations to be discovered by the parties only, unless authorized by the court.

The notaries are ready

Affiliated by Droit Inc, Johannes Dufourspokesperson for the Chambre des notaires, indicates that the professional association welcomes the changes described above.

“And based on this experience (with technological acts), the notary is ready to review and adapt its practices, this time in a sustainable way, for the benefit of the public,” she explains.

Ms Dufour, specifying that the House is currently analyzing the bill “exhaustively”, added that this transition to digital will not diminish the “authentic nature” of notarial deeds.

“The service remains the same, regardless of the medium of the notarial deed or the technological tools used. It will always and above all be a 100% human service, using new tools. †

Adopt in time?

Press attaché of Minister Jolin-Barrette, Elizabeth Gosselin, assured us over the phone that the department is doing its best to pass as many laws as possible. She doesn’t know, however, if Bill 40 will be in the mix at the end of parliamentary proceedings.

“We’ll have to wait and see how the work develops, but we can’t comment at the moment. †

Verification done, Bill 40 is scheduled for this week of projects under consideration by MPs.

Ms Gosselin said that if the bill is not passed, it will “certainly” be passed by the minister or the “elected government” at the next parliamentary session.

The next Provincial Council elections are on October 3.

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