Because precedents inform but do not govern the civil law system, academics have a unique voice in Quebec law compared to the rest of Canada: because judges have more leeway to interpret the Civil Code as they see fit, the opinions of researchers carry more weight than in common law jurisdictions, and judges often turn to the „doctrine“ of academic commentary. In common law, academic work can be a „secondary source“ of precedents and help judges make new decisions, but does not outweigh the clear precedent. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to briefly explain Quebec`s legal system and what sets it apart from the rest of Canada. Quebec is the only province in Canada to have a bijurel legal system composed of both customary law and civil law traditions. This is due to the historical occupation of the country by France and England. You will be surprised to learn that Canada — unlike most countries in the world — does not operate under a single set of laws. There are two (actually three) legal systems in Canada. In Quebec, because of the province`s history as a French colony, civil law is the legal system. In the rest of Canada, the common law prevails. Although they have much in common, there are important differences between the two: the Canadian Parliament has legislative power over the Supreme Court and other federal courts, subject to the principle of judicial independence. The federal government pays the judges of these courts and provides the necessary administrative support, such as.
B clerks and courthouses. [Bill 5] The federal government also appoints judges of the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, pays their salaries and has the exclusive power to remove them from office. [Bill 6] Although the judges of these tribunals are appointed and paid by the federal government, it is the Government of Quebec that is responsible for the laws governing the judicial structure and the administrative support necessary for the judicial system. [Bill 7] The purpose of section 6 is not only to provide education and experience in civil law at the Court, but also to ensure that Quebec`s diverse legal traditions and social values are represented on the Court, thereby strengthening Quebecers` confidence in the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of their rights. In other words, see 6 protects both the functioning and legitimacy of the Supreme Court as The General Court of Appeal of Canada. […]“ (Reference to the Supreme Court Act, s. 5 and 6,  1 p.C.R. 433.) The three main courts are the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Court of Quebec. Of these, the Court of Appeal serves two purposes. First, it is the general court of appeal for all legal matters of the lower courts.
It hears appeals against procedural decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Québec. It may also decide on appeals against the decisions of these two courts on appeal or judicial review concerning the district courts and administrative courts. [Bill 8] Second, but much less frequently, the Court of Appeal has the power to answer questions of reference put to it by the Cabinet of Quebec. The Court of Appeal renders more than 1,500 judgments per year.  Section 6 of the Supreme Court Act provides that „at least three of the [nine] judges shall be appointed from the circle of judges of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court of the province of Quebec or the circle of lawyers of that province.“ The Supreme Court of Quebec has the inherent power to rule on all cases except those where jurisdiction is transferred to another court. [Bill 9] This means that the Supreme Court has the power to hear all civil claims under the Civil Code of Quebec, to decide matters under family law, including the Federal Divorce Act, and to hear class actions. It is also responsible for deciding appeals and applications for judicial review by subordinate courts and administrative tribunals.  The Supreme Court is also a criminal court under the Federal Penal Code. It is the court of first instance for the most serious crimes and also the court of appeal for criminal decisions of the Court of Quebec. In 1760, the capitulation of Montreal marked the beginning of British rule.
Three years later, by royal proclamation of 1763, the „Province of Quebec“ was created by King George III by his royal prerogative. The inhabitants of Quebec thus became subjects of the British Crown, and English law was imposed on them to encourage the English settlers. Despite these constitutional changes, however, the population consisted mainly of French settlers who did not speak or understand English law. The judicial system was very rarely used and the application of the law was not uniform. In fact, the period between 1763 and 1774 was really a military regime. French settlers protested against the introduction of English law into private relations and asked the king to reinstate their laws. Quebec is the only province to have a civil code based on the French Napoleonic Code. The rest of Canada uses the common law. The Penal Code is also considered a code and is used across Canada. Notaries in Quebec, as in other countries with legal systems based on civil law, are office lawyers limited to out-of-court transactions such as real estate, inheritance law, non-contentious family law and corporate law. To work as a notary, in addition to a law degree, candidates must hold a 1-year master`s degree in notarial law and be a member of the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
For example, if you`ve been fined for not paying your income taxes, or arrested for drinking alcohol in a park where it`s not allowed, you can`t pretend you don`t know the law. .