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Access to justice

Access to justice Privacy Quebec

Quebec chips away at government transparency

Quebec, once a pioneer that lead the movement towards greater government transparency, is now among the least transparent provinces in Canada after successive provincial governments introduced more than 150 legislative exemptions that undermined the province’s access to information legislation, according to a recently published comprehensive report by Quebec’s Commission d'accès à l'information.

With Quebec ranking 10th out of 14 jurisdictions in Canada, and 57th in the world, behind Honduras and Romania, the Quebec government should overhaul the provincial access to information legislation to compel all public bodies, even those partially financed by the provincial government, to be subjected to the access to information law, noted the 214-page, five-year report that issued 67 recommendations.…

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Access to justice Criminal justice Quebec

Report urges overhaul of Quebec megatrials

A cultural change that emphasizes collaboration between all players of Quebec’s criminal justice system is the only way to ensure that costly and unwieldly megatrials do not end up in fiascos, according to a well-received comprehensive report on multi-defendant trials.

The long-awaited 180-page report also urges the Quebec government to provide more resources to the province's Director of Penal and Criminal Prosecutions (DPCP), recommends that Quebec crown prosecutors limit the number of accused and concentrate their efforts on criminals most involved in serious crimes, advises the creation of a permanent forum for stakeholders to share best practices, proposes that police and prosecutors take management training, and calls on judges to use the powers they have more effectively. All told, the report makes 51 wide-ranging recommendations.…

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Access to justice Criminal justice Quebec

Quebec criminal justice plagued by delays

Quebec’s justice system will require more money and human resources, need to make more use of technological advances to efficiently deal with routine appearances, and prioritize and encourage timely resolution of cases to be able to curb the unprecedented delays in criminal proceedings, according to the Chief Justice of the Court of Quebec Elizabeth Corte.

“It’s been a long time since we have been talking about this issue, and perhaps the time has come to say that we have done everything we could -- and to improve the way things are done, perhaps we have to realize that we have to inject a bit of money, resources, and technology,” said Justice Corte.…

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Access to justice Court of Quebec Intellectual property Internet Quebec

University research group ushering justice system into digital age

An online dispute resolution pilot project to resolve small claims court cases is scheduled to be launched this fall by the Quebec government thanks to efforts by a university research group that wants to usher the justice system into the digital age.

The alternative dispute resolution open source and interoperable software program is the latest innovative offering developed by the University of Montreal’s Cyberjustice Laboratory, a unique and world-class research organization that strives to put information technology at the service of the judicial system in order to make it more accessible, more efficient and more affordable.

“Access to justice is the driving force behind all of our work,” said law professor Karim Benyekhlef, the head of the Cyberjustice Laboratory, who was involved in the world’s first experiment in online resolution back in the mid-nineties.…

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Access to justice Public law Quebec

Independence of Quebec administrative judges in question, says report

An absence of clear rules in the nomination process of Quebec administrative tribunal adjudicators allows for partisan influence, compromises their independence, potentially raises questions over their impartiality, and casts doubt over the integrity of a system that directly or indirectly affects all Quebecers, according to a recently published report that calls for a common, uniform regime that would apply to all adjudicators.

Unlike some other provinces such as Alberta and Ontario, Quebec does not have a unified regime to appoint adjudicators, validate appointee qualifications, and guarantee independence from government, reveals the 375-page report.

Under the current legal framework, nine out of 15 Quebec administrative tribunals are not required under law to appoint adjudicators with special qualifications and nor are they bound by selection criteria, notes the study. There is also an absence of uniformity in working conditions, compensation, and standards of ethics for adjudicators. The length of their mandates, which varies from three to five years, also suffers from a lack of homogeneity.…

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Access to justice Barreau du Quebec Legal Practice Management Legislation Quebec

Code of Civil Procedure being overhauled

A decade after reforming the Code of Civil Procedure based on the principle of proportionality, Quebec intends to overhaul it once again in order to establish a more rapid, more efficient and less costly civil justice that would improve access to justice and increase public confidence in the justice system.

In an effort lauded by the legal community, Bill 28 aims to modernize and streamline the pre-trial process, trials and appeals, using collaboration along with proportionality as its guiding principle. …

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Access to justice Civil Code of Quebec Quebec Quebec Court of Appeal Rulings

Appeal court provides guidance on contempt of court

he use of contempt of court in civil proceedings will likely diminish over time as judges begin to exercise discretionary powers to redress abuse of process under legislation originally designed to thwart SLAPPs, or strategic lawsuits against public participation, observed the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Contempt of court, an exceptional remedy given its quasi-criminal character and potentially grave sanctions, should be used sparingly and as a “last resort,” particularly since more suitable civil sanctions exist such as running the risk of losing the case on the grounds of abuse of process, dismissal of claims, the striking of allegations to institute proceedings, or even the possible forfeiture of funds held in deposit, advised the appeal court in a 24-page ruling.…

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Access to justice Business Class actions Rulings

Pendulum swings back in favour of issuers in securities class actions

Nearly a year after a handful of decisions seemingly leaned towards a permissive approach in securities class actions for misrepresentations in public disclosure, the pendulum seems to have swung back after a couple of recent court decisions tilted in favour of issuers.

In a 163-page ruling Justice George Strathy of the Ontario Superior Court this week dismissed a secondary market securities class action against CIBC because the plaintiffs had failed to obtain the required leave to proceed with the action within the three-year period mandated by the Ontario Securities Act (OSA). Justice Strathy pointed out that he would have certified the action and allowed it to proceed to trial if he had not found the limitation period had expired.…

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Access to justice Intellectual property Internet Weekend reads

Open data: The value of openness

There is no question that governments are under growing pressure to remove any barriers to accessing its public records, and some — led by the United States, Britain and Australia — are embracing the open data movement. Others, including Canada and its provinces, lag behind but are beginning to overcome their apprehension at making some — if not all — data available to the public.

Open data is essentially information that is free for anyone to use, reuse and redistribute. Proponents of making government data available to the public identify two main benefits: First, innovators of all kinds can use the information to build useful applications and services, and second, it promotes government transparency and accountability and encourages citizen participation in public policy debates.

But first, governments must agree on a legal framework that will govern any move to open up public data for use in different jurisdictions and address issues ranging from IP rights to the use of personal data and respect of people’s privacy. For the most part, reuse and distribution of open data is subject to licences requiring attribution and share-alike provisions.…

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Access to justice Class actions Quebec

Class actions seemingly alive and well in Quebec

Class actions appear to be thriving in Quebec. A series of suits launched recently seem to enhance the province's reputation as a have for class action suits. But that may be illusory.

”The jurisprudence in Quebec has evolved, and it can no longer be said that Quebec is a class action haven,” said Jean Saint-Onge, a class action expert with Lavery, de Billy in Montreal. “Even if it is easier to launch class actions in Quebec, making it more accessible to consumers and by reducing the procedural barriers, the Quebec Court of Appeal has adopted a more rigorous approach to certification.”…

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