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Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Barreau du Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms Legal business Quebec Quebec Court of Appeal Rulings Supreme Court of Canada

Ruling could lead lawyers to think hard before voicing concerns about legal system

In a controversial decision, the Quebec Court of Appeal recently held that Quebec lawyers can criticize the legal system as long as it is done with dignified restraint, constructively and meets the public’s reasonable expectations of a lawyer’s professionalism.

But the appeal court decision has stoked fears that the ruling will engender a chilling effect, and prompt lawyers to think twice before voicing their concerns about the legal system in public for fear of being reprimanded by their law society.…

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Charter of Rights and Freedoms Quebec Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms Quebec Superior Court Rulings

Montreal’s efforts to shut down religious ceremonies hosted by cultural centre violates Charter

The City of Montreal, one of a growing number of municipalities in Quebec that has attempted to use zoning restrictions to restrict places of worship, acted in bad faith and breached the Charter’s guarantee to freedom of religion when it tried to shut down an Islamic cultural centre that hosted religious ceremonies, ruled Quebec Superior Court.

In a closely-watched decision by municipal and human rights lawyers, Quebec Superior Court Judge Jean-Yves Lalonde castigated the city for implementing a zoning by-law that “would promote a phenomenon of ghettoization, access problems and appears to be discriminatory compared to the Catholic churches in the borough that are generally found in the residential sector in the City of Montreal.”…

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Quebec court rules that religious marriages do not necessarily carry any legal obligations

A controversial Quebec Superior Court decision that ruled that religious marriages do not necessarily carry any legal obligations under civil law may have alarming and sweeping consequences, according to family law experts.

The “disturbing” ruling creates a new category of civil status in Quebec, undermines long-held views of religious marriages, and will possibly expose women to vulnerable situations where they will be pressured into celebrating a religious marriage without the protection afforded by civil law, cautioned family lawyers.…

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Accounting Charter of Rights and Freedoms Court of Quebec Quebec Rulings Supreme Court of Canada Tax

Revenue Canada investigation highly reprehensible, says court

A “highly reprehensible” and illegal probe by the Canada Revenue Agency that failed to draw the distinction between a civil tax audit and a criminal tax investigation has put into jeopardy several tax evasion criminal cases involving Quebec construction companies and corruption charges against former federal civil servants, according to tax experts.

In a precedent-setting ruling that appears to bring more clarity to the leading Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Jarvis , [2002] 3 SCR 757, Court of Quebec Justice Dominique Larochelle held that the evidence produced to charge the owner and three other company officials of a Montreal company, B.T. Céramiques, was obtained illegally because federal tax officials crossed the “Rubicon” and failed to inform the taxpayers that the inquiry had turned into a criminal investigation, thereby breaching their right to freedom from self-incrimination and right to reasonable expectation of privacy guaranteed under s.7 and s.8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.…

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Aboriginal law Charter of Rights and Freedoms Quebec Quebec Superior Court Rulings

Federal government given 18 months to amend Indian Act

The federal government has been given 18 months to correct discriminatory provisions in the Indian Act that infringe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after a Quebec judge held that generations of indigenous women have suffered discrimination based on gender.

Despite several amendments to the Indian Act, the latest in 2010 in response to a ruling by the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, Quebec Superior Justice Chantal Masse found that it still discriminated against women and their descendants on the issue of registration or “Indian status.” The federal government has until January 2017 to amend the discriminatory provisions before they are declared invalid as an unjustifiable breach of the right to equality guaranteed by section 15 of the Charter.…

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Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms Crime Quebec Quebec Court of Appeal Rulings

Tough on crime agenda suffers another blow

The federal government’s tough-on-crime agenda suffered another blow after the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that a legislative amendment slipped into the 2012 omnibus bill that effectively ended mandatory parole board hearings following a suspension, termination or revocation of parole or statutory release was of no force in the province.

In a highly-anticipated ruling by the prison law community, the Quebec Court of Appeal held that the legislative change, a cost-savings measure expected to recoup $1.6 million, breached rights guaranteed under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In a similar vein, the Supreme Court of Canada last year ruled that a federal law passed in 2011 that retroactively abolished accelerated parole review for offenders who had already been sentenced violates a person’s Charter right to not be punished again.

“The ruling is a warning to the federal government when it wants introduce legislative amendments that affect fundamental rights,” noted law professor Denis Lemieux.…

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Charter of Rights and Freedoms Legal business Quebec Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms Quebec Superior Court Rulings

Mandatory retirement age for municipal judges not discriminatory

Two municipal judges who sought to stay on the bench beyond the retirement age of 70 lost their legal battle after Quebec Superior Court held that a mandatory retirement age for provincially-nominated magistrates is not discriminatory and is necessary to preserve judicial independence.

But the ruling has not settled the issue of mandatory retirement age for provincially-nominated judges, according to Gérald Tremblay, former batonnier of the Quebec law society. Seven years ago, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that a law forcing justices of the peace in the province to retire at the age of 70 was a violation of equality rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Justice Strathy, now Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal, substituted – or “read in” – new provisions that allow justices of the peace to keep working until age 75, subject to the annual approval of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, even though the official retirement age is 65.…

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Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms Family law Rulings

Ruling extends spousal immunity to common-law spouses

The common law rule against spousal compellability must be extended to common-law spouses because otherwise it would result in “blatant discrimination” that cannot be countenanced in the age of the Charter, held the Alberta Court of Appeal in a ruling that will most likely have persuasive authority in spite of a bill introduced in Parliament that will abolish spousal immunity, according to legal experts.

In a unanimous ruling described by legal observers as very well-written and well-reasoned, the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision that concluded that the existing common law rule was discriminatory and inconsistent with modern values of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.…

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Charter of Rights and Freedoms Court of Quebec Legal Practice Management Quebec Rulings

Amount of legal fees no longer necessarily protected by solicitor-client privilege

The amount of legal fees paid to lawyers is no longer automatically deemed to be protected by solicitor-client privilege following a recent ruling by the Court of Quebec that appears to be in conflict with guidance given earlier this year by the Quebec Court of Appeal, according to some legal observers.

In a ruling that will be the subject of a judicial review by Quebec Superior Court, Justice Diane Quenneville held that while billings are prime facie protected by professional secrecy because it generally contains a description of accomplished tasks, services rendered and often advice given, the amount of legal fees paid to a lawyer is not necessarily protected by professional secrecy.

“Context is a fundamental element in this issue,” noted Justice Quenneville in her 35-page ruling that provides a well-rounded analysis of Quebec and Canadian jurisprudence on the relationship between billings and solicitor-client privilege.…

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Controversial “dying with dignity” legislation brings discussion around euthanasia to the forefront

A landmark bill that has thrust debate around end-of-life care into the national political arena by legalizing medically assisted death in Quebec can withstand court challenges and even co-exist with provisions in the Criminal Code against assisted suicide and euthanasia, assert Quebec legal observers.

In a historic vote, after nearly five years of heart-wrenching deliberations across the province by a cross-party committee of the National Assembly that received 273 briefs and heard 32 experts as well as 239 individuals and organizations, about 80 per cent of Members of the National Assembly approved Bill 52, An Act Respecting End-of Life Care. Beyond providing guidelines to help patients who want to end their pain, the legislation sets protocols for doctors sedating suffering patients and aims to expand palliative care across the province.…

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