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Bulletin

Bulletin #5: The Repercussions of Bill 96 on Legal Disputes and Public Administration

Fasken
Reading Time 3 minute read
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Overview

An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec (widely known as Bill 96) was adopted on May 24, 2022[1].

Besides reinforcing the Charter of the French Language[2], the legislator expressed its intent to invoke the very same purpose that stirred the creators of that law into action: enshrining French as the common language of all Quebeckers[3].   

The adoption of Bill 96 brings a series of changes that will have repercussions for the business community across various sectors of activity.

This is particularly the case for legal disputes, as well as relations with the public administration of Quebec.

An individual’s right to access to justice and legislation in French is enshrined. Thus, in case of a discrepancy between the French and English versions of a legal text, the French text will prevail if the ordinary rules of interpretation do not resolve the discrepancy[4].

Another major change is that all legal proceedings filed by a corporation in English must be accompanied by a certified French translation. The cost of the translation must be borne by that corporation[5].

This requirement will have serious consequences for businesses instituting proceedings in Quebec or defending themselves before Quebec courts. As such, we expect that the obligation to provide a certified French translation to accompany pleadings may increase the cost and duration of the judicial process for many businesses.

In addition, any judgement rendered in English by a court must be accompanied by a French version without delay when it terminates a proceeding and it is of public interest[6].

These changes will also affect the way businesses deal with the public administration of Quebec. Contracts entered into by the public administration of Quebec will be required to be drafted exclusively in French[7]. The same applies to documents sent to a government agency by a corporation or business in order to enter into a contract with that agency.

This requirement also applies to writings sent by a corporation or business to a government agency to obtain grants, financial aid, permits or other authorizations of the same nature, as well as to any subsequent writings related to them. 

Finally, the public administration of Quebec will no longer be able to enter into contracts with  companies to which the provisions of the Charter apply, nor will it be able to grant funding to companies that do not possess a certificate of registration with the Office Québécois de la langue française regarding the francization process[8].

To find out how your company can adapt to these upcoming changes, as well as to understand the consequences and penalties for non-compliance, please contact our team in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group.



[1] Bill 96 “An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec”.

[2] C-11 - Charter of the French language

[3] La politique québécoise de la langue française, Éditeur officiel du Québec, 1977, p. 14-15.

[4] Bill 96, section 5.

[5] Bill 96, section 9.

[6] Id.

[7] Bill 96, section 21.

[8] Bill 96, section 93.

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