January 17, 2023 | Other

Mechanics Of The Justice System

Article 23 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms states that “Every person has a right to a full and equal, public and fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, for the determination of his rights and obligations or of the merits of any charge brought against him”.

In other words, everyone had the right to be heard by the courts in Quebec. This might not always seem as though it is the case. It has happened in superior court that there are so many cases to be heard that you do not feel you got the time you needed and deserved. judges do make mistakes and for that reason we have the appeal courts to bring forward any error of fact or law. The Quebec judicial system consists of first instance courts (Court of Quebec and Superior court) and appeal courts (Court of appeal and Supreme court of Canada).

The municipal courts, Court of Québec, Superior Court, Federal Court and The Human Rights Tribunal are the courts of first instance in Quebec. They are the first to hear a case. This is done by dealing with evidence and hearing witnesses. The municipal courts deal with cases where municipalities try to claim money that they are owed by their residents or cases where residents are in breach of municipal laws. The Court of Québec has three divisions: the Civil Division, the Criminal and Penal Division, and the Youth Division. On the other hand, the Superior Court hears claims of $85,000 or more. The Federal Court decides cases that concern federal government responsibilities. Lastly, the Human Rights Tribunal deals with discrimination, harassment, or exploitation cases.

The Federal Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal of Quebec and the Supreme Court of Canada are the appeal courts in Quebec, meaning they hear decisions of the courts of first instance that were appealed. Federal Court decisions can be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal. Other appeals of decisions of the courts of first instance are heard by the Court of Appeal of Quebec. Not all decisions can be appealed, sometimes you must ask permission and other times it can be automatic. Small claims decisions are final and without appeal. The person appealing the decision (appellant) must prove that the first judge made a mistake of law, and the other party (respondent) is allowed to argue against it. The Supreme Court of Canada is the final court in the country, and except certain criminal cases, you must be given permission to bring an appeal there. It hears appeals from the appeal courts of all the provinces and territories. Going to court is extremely costly which is why we encourage our clients to opt for alternative methods of dispute resolution such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. Mediation involves an unbiased third party called a mediator who assists the parties in their negotiations. Alternatively, arbitration is when a neutral person or group of people, the arbitrator(s), hears the facts and makes a decision for the parties. Arbitrators are often experts in the area or field in dispute.

More specifically relating to family law, a Safeguard Order is an urgent decision by the court that cannot wait for the provisional measures phase or for the final trial because it requires immediate intervention. An interim/safeguard order deals with matters such as spousal support, child support, parental authority, custody, parenting time, or the use of the family residence. You apply to the Quebec Superior Court for safeguard orders. There must be a clear urgency in order for the order to be granted and it is for the most part for a maximum period of six months, which can be extended.