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The Court of Québec (French: Cour du Québec) is a court of first instance that has jurisdiction over civil matters, criminal and penal matters as well as over youth matters in the Province of Québec, Canada. The Court sits in administrative matters as well, and in appeal, on cases provided for by the law.

Court of Québec
Logo CourQuebec.jpg
EstablishedAugust 31, 1988
Chief Judge
CurrentlyLucie Rondeau
SinceOctober 26, 2016



The Court of Québec owes its origins to the Québec Act of 1774, which re-established French law in civil matters and confirmed English law in criminal matters for the Province of Québec. At that time, the judicial system consisted of the Court of Common Pleas, circuit courts, a Court of Appeal and the Court of King's Bench, for criminal cases. (For a historical review of the administration of justice in Québec before 1774, see the website of the Ministry of Justice)

Over the centuries, the Québec courts underwent many changes to their organizational structure as well as to the scope of their jurisdiction. The Magistrate's Court, created in 1869, was renamed the Provincial Court in 1962. The Court of Sessions of the Peace was established in 1908. The first court for children in Québec was created in 1910. It then became the Juvenile Court in 1932 and the Social Welfare Court in 1950. It was later replaced by the Youth Court in 1977. In 1969, the Labour Court was created, with judges from the Provincial Court.[4] In 1973, the Expropriation Tribunal was formed and some of its members were judges of the Provincial Court. The Professions Tribunal was established in 1973.

The Court of Québec was established in 1988, upon the unification of the Provincial Court – whose jurisdiction was mainly civil, the Court of Sessions of the Peace – responsible for criminal cases; and the Youth Court – which had the responsibility of hearing all cases involving minors.

In 1988, the Court consisted of two regional sections: one in Montréal and the other in Québec City. Each one had a Civil Division, a Criminal and Penal Division as well as a Youth Division. At that time, the Court also had an Expropriation Division.

At the outset, the Court was managed by a Chief Judge, who was assisted in each of the regional sections by a Senior Associate Chief Judge, who in turn benefited from the assistance of Associate Chief Judges (three in Québec City and four in Montréal). Nineteen Coordinating Judges, residing in the towns designated as administrative centers of the main judicial districts of Québec, completed this management team.[5][6]

In 1995, at the request of the Court, the legislature simplified its organization. The regional sections were abolished and the responsibilities of the Senior Associate Chief Judge and the Associate Chief Judges were redefined. To coordinate the Court's activities throughout its territory, ten Coordinating Judges were appointed. In some regions, the Coordinating Judge was assisted by one or more Associate Coordinating Judges responsible for the coordination of one of the divisions.

In 1998, upon the creation of the Administrative Tribunal of Québec, the Expropriation Division of the Court of Québec was abolished. Then in 2002, the Labour Court was replaced by the Québec Labour Relations Board (Commission des relations du travail). From then on, only penal matters of original jurisdiction, arising from offences under the Labour Code, came under the jurisdiction of the Court of Québec's Criminal and Penal Division, and only the judges appointed by the Chief Judge had authority to rule upon these matters.[7]

In 2005, as a result of decisions made by higher courts about the status of a "judge with limited jurisdiction," the Courts of Justice Act was amended to allow the appointment of Justices of the Peace. In addition to the six Justices of the Peace already in office since June 30, 2004, 27 new Justices were appointed in 2005.[8]

In 2012, the Courts of Justice Act was amended to increase the number of judges at the Court of Québec from 270 to 290, to add four Associate Coordinating Judge positions, and to create a new position of Justice responsible for Presiding Justices of the Peace. In 2012 and 2015, six presiding justices of the peace positions were added, bringing their number to 39.[9][10][11]

In 2013, the Court of Québec celebrated its 25th anniversary. This event was highlighted in numerous magazines and newspapers including the Journal du Barreau of July and September 2013[12] and Le Monde juridique (Vol. 21, No. 7, Feb. 4, 2014).[13] A commemorative brochure was also prepared by the Office of the Chief Judge for the occasion.[14] Finally, a motion to mark this event was adopted unanimously by the National Assembly of Quebec on September 25, 2013.[15]

In 2016, the Courts of Justice Act was amended to increase the number of judges at the Court of Québec from 290 to 306.[16]


Civil DivisionEdit

Regular DivisionEdit

Under section 81 of the Courts of Justice Act, the Court has jurisdiction, within the limits prescribed by law, over civil actions taken under the Code of Civil Procedure or any other statute.[19] More specifically, the judges have authority to hear claims where the monetary value or interest of the matter in dispute is under $70,000. The Act to establish the new Code of Civil Procedure (2014, chapter 1)[20] makes provision for an increase in this monetary value to at least $85,000 and includes a clause for the annual adjustment of the indexed limit amount.

As well, the judges of the Court of Québec have jurisdiction to decide actions for payment of municipal or school taxes and to annul or reverse municipal or school board assessment rolls. Their jurisdiction also extends to recourses contesting a person taking public office in a municipality or school board.

Moreover, the judges hear motions to have a person undergo a psychiatric examination or to be confined to a medical institution.

Small Claims DivisionEdit

In the Small Claims Division, judges decide cases involving claims, since January 1, 2015, of $15,000 or less payable by an individual or legal entity, company, or association with five or fewer employees during the twelve-month period preceding the claim.

Legal representation is not permitted, except when special permission is granted in cases where the dispute raises complex questions of law. The written procedure is simplified. The judges explain the rules of evidence and procedure to the parties. They direct the proceedings, question witnesses, hear the parties, and decide the issues in dispute. They provide each party with fair and impartial assistance, so as to render the substantive law effective and ensure that it is carried out. Where circumstances allow, the judges endeavour to bring the parties to an agreement. When judgment is rendered, it is a reasoned decision and cannot be appealed. Judges in this division also decide tax-related summary appeals.

A video about the role of the judge in the Small Claims Division is available online:

Administrative and Appeal DivisionEdit

In 2007, the Court of Québec established the Administrative and Appeal Division (AAD) within the Civil Division in order to foster uniformity, consistency, and efficiency. The judges of this division have exclusive authority to hear appeals from decisions rendered by various regulatory tribunals and administrative agencies, including the Access to Information Commission, the Québec Rental Board, the Administrative Tribunal of Québec, the Police Ethics Committee, and ethics committees governing professionals in matters of the provision of financial products and services and real estate brokerage. AAD judges are also called upon to rule on highly complex Québec Revenue Agency decisions on taxation and tax recovery. However, the vast majority of appeals from taxation and tax recovery remain the prerogative of judges in civil matters throughout Quebec.

Criminal and Penal DivisionEdit

The Courts of Justice Act establishes that the Court's judges have jurisdiction, within the limits stipulated by law, in relation to actions taken under the Criminal Code, the Code of Penal Procedure or any other law of a criminal or penal nature.[21]

In criminal matters, Court's judges preside over legal proceedings that come under the jurisdiction of a provincial court judge and a judge without a jury, with regard to charges laid under the Criminal Code or any other law of the same nature. They also preside over proceedings relating to offences punishable by summary conviction, pursuant to the provisions of Part XXVII of the Code. Only offences restricted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Superior Court[22] – including those that are heard before a judge and a jury – are not handled by the judges of the Criminal and Penal Division.

In penal matters, the judges hear proceedings initiated under the Code of Penal Procedure or any other provincial or federal penal legislation concerning public welfare. For example, the Québec Financial Services Authority (Autorité des marchés financiers) and the Québec Revenue Agency cases are increasing in number at a significant rate and require more and more time to hear.

The judges from the Criminal Division may also handle certain applications for judicial authorization for which they have either exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction with the Superior Court or Presiding Justices of the Peace.

The Presiding Justices of the Peace serve in the Criminal and Penal Division throughout the province. In these matters, they are the first judicial officials involved, issuing all types of judicial authorizations, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They also have jurisdiction over appearances by telephone every weekend and on holidays that fall on a Monday or Friday.

Youth DivisionEdit

The Courts of Justice Act and the Code of Civil Procedure establish the jurisdiction of Court of Québec judges in youth matters, which involves enforcing the Youth Protection Act.[23][24]

They hear cases concerning minors whose safety or development is or may be declared to be in danger. Once the danger has been established to the judge's satisfaction, the judge orders that one or more protective measures set out in the Youth Protection Act be carried out in order to address the situation. The Act also contains rules for applications for tutorship, which are brought before the judges.[25]

Under Québec's Code of Civil Procedure, Court of Québec judges have exclusive jurisdiction over adoption applications, including those involving international adoption.[26]

The judges also have jurisdiction to exercise the functions of the youth justice court, in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. In this regard, the judges hear and decide the trials of youth who were between the ages of 12 and 18 at the time an offence was committed under the Criminal Code or under federal or provincial statutes of a criminal or penal nature. They also adjudicate, in certain circumstances, preliminary inquiries.

The judges also have jurisdiction in proceedings initiated under the Code of Penal Procedure for public welfare offences committed by defendants who were under 18 years of age at the time of the offence.

Court of Québec judges have exclusive jurisdiction when the accused youth cannot be released or has been placed in the custody of the Director of Youth Protection, if the youth so requests or it is in his or her interest.

The Act to establish the new Code of Civil Procedure (2014, chapter 1)[27] contains provisions for the jurisdiction of the Court in youth matters. It grants the Court new jurisdiction over child custody, tutorship, and the exercise of parental authority when a protection or adoption matter is already before the Court.


Judges in Management Positions[29]Edit

The Court of Québec is made up of 306 judges and 36 Presiding Justices of the Peace. The Court has a management structure that assists the judges in the performance of their duties and functions. The Courts of Justice Act provides for the positions of Chief Judge, Senior Associate Chief Judge, and Associate Chief Judges, whose mandates last seven years and cannot be renewed. The coordinating judges and associate coordinating judges complete this structure. Their mandates span a maximum of three years and can be renewed.

The Chief Judge and Senior Associate Chief Judge are the president and vice-president respectively of the Judicial Council of Quebec (Conseil de la magistrature du Québec). The Associate Chief Judges are also members.

Current Chief Judges team

Function Name Term of office
Chief Judge Lucie Rondeau October 26, 2016 –
Senior Associate Chief Judge Scott Hughes February 1, 2017 –
Associate Chief Judge for the Youth Division Robert Proulx February 1, 2017 –
Associate Chief Judge for the Civil Division Henri Richard December 11, 2017 –
Associate Chief Judge responsible for municipal courts Claudie Bélanger January 15, 2018 –
Associate Chief Judge for the Criminal and Penal Division Chantale Pelletier June 16, 2018 –

Chief Judge

The Chief Judge ensures the general policies of the Court are followed, coordinates and distributes the judges' work, promotes their professional development, and ensures compliance with the Judicial Code of Ethics. Under the Act, she is also tasked with assigning cases and scheduling the sittings of the Court. On a daily basis, this responsibility is delegated to the Coordinating and Associate Coordinating Judges in each region.

The Chief Judge is supported in her work by the team of judges in management positions. In cooperation with all the judges, whom she consults on a regular basis, the Chief Judge defines the Court's mission, values, and objectives. The Chief Judge represents the Court of Québec and acts as its spokesperson with the government and other stake holders in the judicial system.

Chief Judges from the establishment of the Court of Québec in 1988

Name Term of office
Lucie Rondeau October 26, 2016 -
Élizabeth Corte October 21, 2009 to October 20, 2016
Guy Gagnon September 24, 2003 to September 26, 2009
Huguette St-Louis August 28, 1996 to September 23, 2003
Louis-Charles Fournier September 1, 1995 to August 28, 1996
Albert Gobeil August 31, 1988 to August 31, 1995

Senior Associate Chief Judge

The Senior Associate Chief Judge assists and advises the Chief Judge in the performance of her duties and functions. He also oversees compliance with the Court's policies and manages the scheduling and management-related professional development of the Coordinating and Associate Coordinating Judges. He chairs or sits on numerous committees, including those whose objective is to support court activities in the areas of technology, safety, and ethics. He conducts a periodic assessment of regional staffing needs and assignments, oversees the application of the per diem judge program, and manages the judge mobility program.

Associate Chief Judges

The four Associate Chief Judges advise the Chief Judge in matters for which they are responsible. They help the Court achieve its objectives and establish its priorities and policies by recommending ways to improve its operations. They also support and assist judges with their daily tasks. At the request of the Chief Judge, the Associate Chief Judges chair committees formed to select candidates for the position of judge.[30]

The Associate Chief Judge responsible for the municipal courts performs the duties and functions conferred under the Act respecting municipal courts. In collaboration with the municipal judges, he drafts general policies for them and monitors compliance. In addition, he ensures that judicial ethics are observed and oversees the professional development of the municipal judges. The municipal judges under his jurisdiction work in nearly 90 local and regional municipal courts serving nearly 900 municipalities across Québec.

Coordinating and Associate Coordinating Judges

With the government's approval, the Chief Judge designates a Coordinating Judge from among the Court's judges for each of the Court's ten coordinating regions. She can also designate a maximum of 12 Associate Coordinating Judges. These judges represent the Court of Québec in dealings with various parties in their respective regions. They are in charge of administering the Court in the judicial district under their responsibility. This includes scheduling sittings of the Court and assigning cases to judges. They help develop the Court's priorities, policies, and practices, based in part on regional judges' expertise and the specific needs of their regions.

Each Associate Coordinating Judge usually takes responsibility for a particular Court division, under the authority of the Coordinating Judge. They work together to determine the needs of local judges and divide the workload across the region and with respect to the specific matters entrusted to them.

The Coordinating and Associate Coordinating Judges are also tasked with welcoming new judges. They are responsible for regional professional development programs and the judge mobility program in their respective regions.


The 306 Court of Québec judges hear and decide cases involving civil, administrative and appellate, criminal and penal, and youth matters. Some judges hear cases involving only one of these matters, while others—particularly in the regions—hear cases in more than one division or area.

Presiding Justices of the Peace[32]Edit

In addition to the duties described above in the presentation of the Criminal and Penal Division, Presiding Justices of the Peace sit in all courthouses and points of service to hear cases relating to Québec legislation and a variety of federal statutes. In these matters, they have the same jurisdiction as Court of Québec judges. Presiding Justices of the Peace preside over proceedings involving matters as varied and important as occupational health and safety, environmental protection, illegal practice of a profession, and securities.

The Courts of Justice Act was amended in 2012 to create a position of Justice responsible for Presiding Justices of the Peace.

Per Diem Judges[33]Edit

Since 2002, the Court has managed expenditures relating to the salaries and compensation of Court judges who act as Per Diem Judges under an administrative agreement with Ministry of Justice of Québec, which is renewed each year. Under the terms of the agreement, amounts that are not paid out in compensation when judges retire or take long-term sick leave are available to compensate Per Diem Judges.

At the request of the Chief Judge and in accordance with the Act, the government appoints Per Diem Judges and Presiding Justices of the Peace from amongst the judges who have retired and not yet reached age 75. These judges support and assist judges in regions where there are not enough permanent judges. They also work on special projects. The assistance they provide can help the Court achieve its objectives for reducing wait times.

Coordinating Regions[34]Edit

To make it easier to coordinate the Court's activities, its territory is divided into 10 regions:

  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue–Nord-du-Québec
  • Bas-Saint-Laurent–Côte-Nord–Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine
  • Estrie
  • Laval–Laurentides–Lanaudière–Labelle
  • Mauricie–Bois-Francs–Centre-du-Québec
  • Montérégie
  • Montréal
  • Outaouais
  • Québec–Chaudière-Appalaches
  • Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean

As for the aboriginal communities in Québec's Far North as well as those on the North Shore, they also benefit from the judges' services, through a travelling court.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Court of Québec, History,
  2. ^ Me Sylvio Normand, La Cour du Québec : genèse et développement, Wilson & Lafleur, 2013.
  3. ^ Raoul. P. Barbe, juge de la Cour du Québec à la retraite, Les palais de justice du Québec, Éditions Yvon Blais, 2013.
  4. ^ Jacinthe Plamondon, PhD candidate in law, Capsules historiques no. 3, 4 et 5,
  5. ^ Jacinthe Plamondon, PhD candidate in law, La réflexion sur l'unification des tribunaux,
  6. ^ Court of Québec, Les juges en chef depuis la création de la Cour du Québec en 1988,
  7. ^ Jacinthe Plamondon, PhD candidate in law, Une Cour unifiée de première instance au Québec,
  8. ^ Jacinthe Plamondon, PhD candidate in law, Les juges de paix dans le système judiciaire québécois,
  9. ^ Ministère de la justice, Justice Access Plan,
  10. ^ Court of Québec, Public Report 2011,
  11. ^ Court of Québec, Public Report 2012,
  12. ^ Journal du Barreau,
  13. ^ Le Monde juridique (vol. 21, no 7, 4 février 2014),
  14. ^ Court of Québec, 1988 - 2013, 25 ans au service des justiciables, commemorative brochure
  15. ^ Journal des débats de l'Assemblée nationale,
  16. ^ Ministère de la justice, The Québec government invests massively in the justice system "Rendering justice in a timely manner",
  17. ^ Court of Québec, The Judges' Jurisdiction,
  18. ^ Court of Québec, Public Report 2013,
  19. ^ Publications du Québec, Courts of Justice Act,
  20. ^ Assemblée nationale, An Act to establish the new Code of Civil Procedure,
  21. ^ Publications du Québec, Courts of Justice Act,
  22. ^ Superior Court of Québec,
  23. ^ Publications du Québec, Courts of Justice Act,
  24. ^ Publications du Québec, Code of Civil Procedure,
  25. ^ Publications du Québec, Youth Protection Act,
  26. ^ Publications du Québec, Code of Civil Procedure,
  27. ^ Assemblée nationale, An Act to establish the new Code of Civil Procedure,
  28. ^ Court of Québec, Public Report 2013,
  29. ^ Court of Québec, The Court of Québec Authorities,
  30. ^ Publications du Québec, Regulation respecting the selection procedure of candidates for the office of judge of the Court of Québec, municipal court judge and presiding justice of the peace,
  31. ^ Court of Québec, The Judges,
  32. ^ Court of Québec, The Judges,
  33. ^ Court of Québec, The Judges,
  34. ^ Court of Québec, The Coordinating Regions,

External linksEdit