Bill 96: a judge suspends two articles of the new Quebec language law concerning legal translations

A Quebec Superior Court judge has temporarily suspended two sections of the province’s new language law, saying they could prevent some English-speaking organizations from accessing justice through the courts.

Judge Chantal Corriveau ruled that sections of Bill 96 that require corporations to pay a certified translator to produce French versions of legal documents should be stayed until the legal challenge can be heard on the merits.

A group of lawyers challenging the sections of the law argued that the translation requirement could result in costs and delays that could deter some small and medium-sized entities operating in English from accessing the courts.

Corriveau agreed that the group has raised questions about whether this part of the law violates sections of the Constitution Act, 1867 that guarantee access to the courts in both official languages.

The lawyers are among several groups that are legally challenging Bill 96, which aims to strengthen the use of French through updated language regulations that affect businesses, junior colleges, immigration and the courts.

The law, which passed earlier this year, also proactively invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution to shield it from Charter challenges.

— This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 12, 2022.