Be aware when carrying on business in Quebec

It’s interesting in the practice of Business Law how things go in waves. One week we have an influx of wrongful dismissal claims, like the week after the Ghomeshi allegations started, and another week, like one a few weeks back, clients are contracting with businesses in Quebec.

I’m not licensed to practice Law in Quebec. The Quebec civil law requires a completely different law degree and frankly, being born and raised in BC, my French is not good enough to practice law in that Province.

Many clients start off a conversation about possibly doing business in La Belle Province by asking “how different can it be”? Well, an auto financing company found out the hard way recently in a case reported by the Canadian Finance Leasing Association as follows:

“In a recent decision, the Court of Québec applied Section 107 of the Consumer Protection Act to authorize the plaintiff to return a financed vehicle when her financial situation changed (as a result of her separation from her common law spouse, a co-signer of the transaction), making her unable to pay the amounts due.”

To be clear, in Ontario, you can’t just return a car because your personal financial situation changed: we still expect people to honour their obligations in this province.

In addition to very different Consumer Protection Act legislation, Quebec has much more onerous obligations on the use of English in the workplace and it treats its employees very differently as well.

Before choosing to carry on business in Quebec, it’s important to be sure you know what you’re getting into – the costs may outweigh the potential benefits in many cases.

Inga B. Andriessen JD
iandriessen@andriessen.ca

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