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Parts Of Bill 96 Could Affect Your Access To Justice, The Montreal Bar Association Says

"It is essential to protect access to justice for all."

Parts Of Bill 96 Could Affect Your Access To Justice, The Montreal Bar Association Says

The Montreal bar association has been looking into elements of Bill 96 and is raising concern that certain articles could "infringe on the principle of access to justice which is at the heart of Quebec's democratic society," particularly for English speakers and bilingual people.

The association has pointed to five articles in the Bill that could affect "access to justice:" 9, 12, 13, 55, and 208.6.

Article 9 of the Bill, for instance, states that "a certified French translation shall be attached to any pleading drawn up in English that emanates from a legal person. The legal person shall bear the translation costs."

The association says that "requiring a party to bear the costs of a translation" affects access to justice and that there could be delays with processing a translated case report.

"In addition," the association continued, "there is reason to wonder about the availability of a sufficient number of legal translators in private practice."

Article 12 of Bill 96, meanwhile, relates to the appointment of judges in Quebec, stating they "shall not be required to have knowledge or a specific level of knowledge of a language other than the official language unless the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the French Language consider that the exercise of that office requires such knowledge."

For the association, this is troubling because the provision doesn't "take into account the reality of litigants in Montreal, where the percentage of cases in which English is required alone justifies the presence of judges or administrative judges who are bilingual or who have sufficient knowledge of English."

In a statement, the president of the Montreal bar, Junior Laguerre, said that "it is important to guarantee all citizens access to justice without hindrance or barrier, whether linguistic, economic or temporal."

"We, therefore, ask Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette to make the necessary amendments to the bill, so that it achieves its objectives without harming access to justice for all," Laguerre concluded.