Conférence des juges de la Cour du Québec, et al. v. Chief Justice, et al.
(Que.) (Civil) (As of Right)
Constitutional law - Courts - Constitutional law - Courts - Limit of exclusive monetary jurisdiction of Court of Québec - Obligation of judicial deference with respect to appeals to Court of Québec - Code of Civil Procedure, CQLR, c. C-25.01, art. 35 - Constitution Act, 1867, ss. 92(14) and 96.
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By order in council No. 880-2017 of August 30, 2017, the government of Quebec referred the following two questions to the Quebec Court of Appeal:
1. Are the provisions of the first paragraph of article 35 of the Code of Civil Procedure, CQLR, c. C-25.01, setting at less than $85,000 the limit to the exclusive monetary jurisdiction of the Court of Québec valid having regard to section 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867 given the jurisdiction of Quebec over the administration of justice under subsection 92(14) of the Constitution Act, 1867?
2. Is it consistent with section 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867 to apply the obligation of judicial deference, which characterizes the application for judicial review, to the appeals to the Court of Québec provided for in sections 147 of the Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information, CQLR, c. A-2.1, 115.16 of the Act respecting the Autorité des marchés financiers, CQLR, c. A-33.2, 100 of the Real Estate Brokerage Act, CQLR, c. C-73.2, 379 of the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services, CQLR, c. D-9.2, 159 of the Act respecting administrative justice, CQLR, c. J-3, 240 and 241 of the Police Act, CQLR, c. P-13.1, 91 of the Act respecting the Régie du logement, CQLR, c. R-8.1, and 61 of the Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector, CQLR, c. P-39.1?
The Court of Appeal answered “no” to the first question, finding that art. 35 para. 1 infringes on the core jurisdiction of the Quebec Superior Court to decide certain substantive disputes in civil matters. To be consistent with s. 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867, the maximum limit for the civil jurisdiction of the Court of Québec must fall between $55,000 and $70,000, subject to future updates. On the second question, the Court of Appeal answered “yes”, because none of the legislative schemes in question eliminates the superintending and reforming power of the Superior Court over decisions made by the Court of Québec sitting in appeal and because the Superior Court retains its fundamental role as the guardian of an independent and unified system of justice in Canada. A duplication of the powers of the Court of Québec and the Superior Court makes the system more cumbersome and perhaps stands contrary to the objectives of administrative justice, but this is insufficient to hold that a legislative grant of power is unconstitutional.
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