Thursday, February 10, 2011

Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of Federal Law - Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 3

The Library of Parliament recently made public its legislative summary of Bill S-12:Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 3:
"This is the third harmonization bill to be tabled by the Government in conjunction with the harmonization initiative that was begun by the Department of Justice Canada following the coming into force of the Civil Code of Québec in 1994. The two previous harmonization statutes(Federal Law - Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1 and Federal Law - Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 2) came into force in 2001 and 2004 respectively (...)"

"In 1993, in anticipation of the coming into force on 1 January 1994 of the Civil Code of Québec (CCQ), which would replace the Civil Code of Lower Canada (CCLC), the federal Department of Justice created the Civil Code Section to review federal statutes to ensure that they properly reflect both legal traditions, the civil law system in Quebec and the common law system in the rest of Canada (...)"

"However, the reform of the civil law in Quebec is not the only factor responsible for the lack of harmony between the federal law and the civil law. The problem existed long before the CCQ came into force because Parliament has not always taken the civil law system and its language into account when setting out any new private law standards. This has been obvious in three different ways:

  • the use of vague or inaccurate phrases to express concepts for which there is a recognized vocabulary in the civil law;
  • the expression of legislative provisions only in accordance with the common law system, so that the two legal traditions did not receive equal treatment; and
  • the policy of so-called semi-legal legislative drafting, whereby, for a number of years, the language of the civil law was used only in the French version and the language of the common law was used only in the English version, resulting in unequal treatment of Canada's Anglophone and Francophone communities."

"The Government of Canada has cited other reasons to justify the need to harmonize federal statutes with the civil law of Quebec. Some of these reasons are set out in the preamble to the Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1, which states, among other things, that:

  • all Canadians are entitled to have access to federal laws in keeping with their legal tradition;
  • the civil law reflects the unique character of Quebec society;
  • the harmonious interaction of federal and provincial legislation is essential; and
  • the full development of our two major legal traditions gives Canadians a window on the world and facilitates exchanges with the vast majority of other countries."
Bill S-12 makes harmonization changes to 12 statutes, including the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Expropriation Act.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:20 pm


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