Quebec judiciary: how are the courts organized?

The judicial organization of the courts in Quebec is an important subject. In effect, public civil justice is administered by the courts of the judiciary, which come under the legislative authority of Quebec. These are the Court of Quebec, the Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal, to name but a few.

Before taking legal action, it is important to clearly understand the hierarchy and functioning of the courts. Which court has jurisdiction to adjudicate on my claim? To determine the jurisdiction of a court, it is necessary to look at its attributed jurisdiction (can it hear my case) and its territorial competence (can I introduce an action in the district of Montreal if I reside in Quebec).

The attributed jurisdiction of the judiciary courts (Arts 29 to 39 CCP)

The Superior Court is the common law court of first instance. It has the power to hear any claim that the law does not formally and exclusively assign to another jurisdiction or jurisdictional body. The Superior Court is also competent for collective actions or injunction claims (Art 33 al. 2 CCP). At the same time, the Superior Court has the general power of judicial review, inter alia, over the courts of Quebec, with the exception of the Court of Appeal, on public bodies, public or private law corporations and associations (Art 34 CCP). The Superior Court can hear claims in civil and criminal matters, as well as on appeal of certain decisions.

The Court of Quebec is the other court of first instance of Quebec’s judiciary. It has jurisdiction in civil, criminal and penal matters. The Court of Quebec has exclusive jurisdiction for claims in which the value of the object in dispute is less than $85,000.00, in matters of adoption, as well as for claims to entrust a person to the care of a hospital facility for psychiatric evaluation or follow-up. The Court of Quebec is comprised of three chambers, namely the Civil Chamber, which includes the Small Claims Division, the Criminal and Penal Division and the Youth Division.

The Quebec Court of Appeal is the general appeal court for all of Quebec. It is the highest court in the province and is located in Quebec City and Montreal. The Quebec Court of Appeal hears appeals in civil and criminal matters. In civil matters, it is necessary to distinguish the appeals of right from appeals on permission. Appeals of right relate to the judgments of the Superior Court and the Court of Quebec amounting to more than $60,000.00 which end a proceeding, as well as judgments and orders relating to the integrity, state or capacity of the person, the particular rights of the state or contempt of court. In criminal and penal matters, the Court of Appeal hears claims concerning verdicts or sentences imposed under the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The territorial jurisdiction of the judiciary courts (Arts 40 to 48 CCP)

Territorial jurisdiction is defined by the competence of a jurisdiction based on geographical criteria.

With respect to the Quebec Court of Appeal, territorial jurisdiction is determined by Article 40 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which enumerates the judicial districts whose appeals fall under the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal of Montreal or the Court of Appeal of Quebec.

The Superior Court and the Court of Quebec exercise jurisdiction in all the judicial districts of Quebec. However, for these two courts, the territorial jurisdiction in the judicial district in which they sit is determined by external criteria such as the domicile or residence of a party, the location of a property or the place where the dispute originated (place of contract conclusion or cause of action).

In effect, the court with territorial jurisdiction to hear legal claims is that of the place where the defendant is domiciled (Art 41 al. 1 CCP). However, the court of the place where the contract was concluded for matters of contractual obligations or that of the place where the damage was suffered in matters of extracontractual civil liability is also competent at the choice of the plaintiff (Art 42 CCP). Other provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure provide for a separate territorial jurisdiction for specific matters (Arts 43 to 48 CCP).

Choosing the competent judiciary court to make your claim.

It is necessary to become well informed before filing a lawsuit. Contacting a legal professional can be helpful in selecting the appropriate judiciary court for your claim.

If you want more information or if you are looking for legal advice, contact Bérard Avocat law firm today. We will be happy to advise you and assist you in you