On February 20, 2014, the new Québec Code of Civil Procedure (“C.C.P.”) was adopted. This new C.C.P. will come into force on January 1, 2016 and will introduce important changes to the previous procedural rules governing class actions in Québec. Essentially, three major changes will take place.
First, it will no longer be the case that only a natural person, a legal person, partnership or association of 50 or less employees can become a member of a class (article 571 C.C.P.). Since Québec is an opt-out regime, institutions and public corporation will automatically be class members if indeed these fall under the definition of the class that is authorised by a Superior Court. Therefore, if these wish to institute separate proceedings, they will have to opt-out of the class (article 580 C.C.P.). The Legislator also removed the reference to the fact that a legal person, partnership or association who wants to be a member of a class has to stay at arm’s length with the representative of the class (article 571 C.C.P.).
Secondly, a legal person established for a private interest, a partnership and an association not endowed with juridical personality, may now be the representative or petitioner of a class, despite not being per se a member of the class. This will be possible if the following criteria are met:
- at least one administrator, partner or member of the association is a member of the class on behalf of which the entity is seeking to institute a class action; and,
- the interest of the administrator, partner or member of the association is related to the purposes for which the entity was constituted (article 571 C.C.P.).
Consequently, entities like Option Consommateurs can now institute class actions and be the representative of same without having to name a natural person as a representative.
Finally, it will now be possible to appeal a judgment on authorization, not only when the authorization is denied, but also when it is granted. However, permission from the Court of Appeal will be required when authorization is granted (article 578 C.C.P.).