Small claims, divorce, problems with neighbours . . . Quebec’s legal system is changing in important ways. The changes will affect citizens who turn to the courts to solve legal disputes. At the heart of the changes is the new Code of Civil Procedure that came into effect on January 1, 2016.
What Is Civil Procedure?
Civil procedure is a set of rules that people must follow when they take a civil case to court. These are some examples:
- the deadlines you must respect when you go to small claims court
- the documents you have to include with a request for child support
- how to prove your case in court
Most of these rules are contained in a law called the Code of Civil Procedure.
The new code replaces the old one from 1965 that was partly changed in 2003.
Don’t confuse civil procedure with penal procedure. Penal procedure is a set of rules that apply when a person has broken a law, such as the law on highway safety. The changes to the Code of Civil Procedure don’t affect the Code of Penal Procedure.
Why Change Civil Procedure?
The reason for the new Code of Civil Procedure is to improve access to justice in civil cases.
Over the years, many people have called for changes to make it easier, cheaper and faster to take a case to court.
The new code contains a number of changes. For example, people involved in a legal dispute have a duty to think about ways to solve their dispute without going to court. Negotiation and mediation are often faster and cheaper.
What Are the Changes?
The purpose of the new code is to make the legal system more accessible. These are some examples:
- Businesses with 10 employees or less can now go to small claims court.
- People who have a dispute with a merchant can have their case heard in a courthouse close to where they live.
- People are encouraged to use information technologies, such as videoconferencing, to avoid unnecessary travel.
- Judges are given more control over cases to make sure people respect the court process.
- People involved in a court case are encouraged to agree on a single expert witness. In some cases, judges can order them to do so.
To learn more, visit the website of Justice Québec.