In early 2022, the Autorité des marchés financiers (the “AMF”) conducted specific consultations on financial products offered on the Internet. Further to these consultations, the AMF published explanations on the Regulation respecting Alternative Distribution Methods (the “RADM”) in late December 2022.1 Here are some key points that the AMF has clarified: Definitions The AMF has elaborated on the meaning of certain terms and expressions included in the RADM, thereby clarifying the obligations incumbent on firms as concerns insurance products offered on the Internet: “Providing” or “presenting” information: This implies delivering, giving or handing over information to a client without them having to take any action. A client should not have to search for the information to find it. As such, making the information accessible or referring to a policy is not enough.2 “Making visible at all times”: The information should be visible to the client at all times, regardless of the page the client is on. A representative’s contact information is the only information that must be visible on the digital transactional space at all times. Websites that are accessible to people who are blind or use a voice assistant must also have means to present this information.3 “Making a representative available”: The AMF only requires that representatives be available during regular business hours.4 “Making information readily accessible”: A client must have the option of taking cognizance of the information and be able to easily find it. The information must be accessible in one or two clicks. Including a hyperlink or an icon, for example, are ways of making information accessible.5 Under this obligation, a hyperlink may be used to redirect a client to a website or document external to the digital space.6 External documents that are accessible through hyperlinks, such as sample insurance policies, must be up to date. Summary of the complaint processing policy The AMF specifies that the summary of the complaint processing policy referred to in the RADM must be that of the firm running the transactional website, not of a third party. Thus, a property and casualty insurance brokerage cannot refer to an insurer’s policy summary.7 Identification of the firm A firm may display partner logos on its digital space only if doing so does not cause confusion. A client must know which firm runs the space and must be able to distinguish it from partners that do not offer the products or services.8 Product coverage, exclusions and limitations Further to its supervisory activities, the AMF has confirmed that product coverage appears to be well presented in digital spaces. However, exclusions and sometimes limitations are not as well presented. Given that exclusions and limitations constitute information that is necessary for a client to make an informed decision, the AMF urges firms to pay attention to these and to select them based on a proper analysis.9 Suspension of transactions The AMF has clarified how to apply the criteria under section 14 of the RADM, more specifically paragraph 3 of this section, which provides that a firm must suspend a transaction initiated through a digital space when no representative can immediately intervene with a client who asks to deal with a representative and there is a risk that the client will not be able to make an informed decision. The AMF specifies that it is up to the firm to assess and manage its risk. In order to determine whether such a risk exists, the AMF has proposed the following solutions: The firm may caution the client as follows: “Do you wish to continue the process even though no representative is available at this time?” The firm could post its representatives’ availability. If a client decides to enter into a contract through a digital space, the firm could ensure that a representative contacts them within 24 hours. A transaction does not have to be suspended immediately; it can be done at the end of the transaction, before the contract is concluded. Moreover, stopping or temporarily suspending a transaction may also be necessary if a contradiction or irregularity in the information the client provides could lead to an error.10 The digital space must be set up to detect such a contradiction automatically. The AMF considers it preferable to discontinue a transaction if contradictions are detected. It can also be temporarily suspended while the client is informed of the consequences of making false statements and the importance of knowing their entire situation, for example, and to allow them to make corrections, if necessary.11 To better understand the obligations of the RADM, we invite you to consult our bulletin Bill 141: Checklist on insurance products offered via the internet and distribution without a representative. These are only available in French at this time; Regulation respecting Alternative Distribution Methods, CQLR, c. D-9.2, r. 16.1. Autorité des marchés financiers, Explications à l’égard du règlement – Le RMAD expliqué article par article (hereinafter the “Explanations”), ss. 7, 9, 11, 12 and 12.2. The terms “explaining information” or “providing information” under section 12.1 of the RADM should be interpreted in the same manner. Explanations, s. 8. Explanations, s. 8. Explanations, ss. 8 and 10. Explanations, ss. 8 and 10. A representative’s contact information does not have to appear on external documents and websites at all times. It is important to note that under section 9 of the RADM, a document that is to be “provided” or “presented” to a client cannot be located on an external website. Explanations, s. 8. Explanations, s. 8, para. 1. Explanations, s. 9. For example, a client declaring they have no children yet selecting insurance for their children constitutes a contradiction. Explanations, s. 14.
Gabrielle Mathieu Lawyer
- Québec, 2020
Gabrielle Mathieu is a member of our Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at our Montreal office.
As part of her multidisciplinary and diversified practice, she acts in matters involving several areas, including commercial litigation, construction litigation, injunctions, as well as bankruptcy and insolvency. As such, she appears before the courts and represents various clients from the public and private sectors.
Gabrielle is also involved in a number of cases dealing with intellectual property litigation, including trademark and copyright matters.
She also has expertise in regulatory matters, particularly in the areas of insurance and the distribution of financial products and services.
A true art and architecture enthusiast, Gabrielle completed her studies in art history before beginning her studies in law, specializing in modern sculpture and architecture. She has also taught art history in various colleges, worked in the field of digital publishing and worked as a junior consultant for a project to enhance heritage value.
- Represented an insurer in the context of a large-scale case involving the liability of engineers and builders
- Advised and represented a group of co-owners concerning the protection of their rights relating to a servitude of use for agricultural purposes and the protection of the intended purpose of their co-ownership property
- Represented a manufacturer in the context of complex litigation concerning the rehabilitation of a public infrastructure project of the City of Montreal
- Provided research and support to associates and partners in various litigation matters involving, among other things, the administration of public tenders and neighbourhood disturbances following the contamination of a property by pollutants
- Represented a major corporation of the surety industry in the context of a receivership sale of its debtors’ assets under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
- Represented various businesses in protecting their rights in respect of trademarks registered with the CIPO
- Drafted a review brief before the Federal Court for a trademark case
- Advised as to the application of Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec
Insurance Regulatory Matters
- Complaint processing: New framework to come for financial institutions and financial intermediaries, Lavery Bulletin, May 2, 2022
- Bill 141: Checklist on insurance products offered via the internet and distribution without a representative, Lavery Bulletin, February 13, 2020
Intellectual Property, Arts and Heritage Law
- Can an Idea, Style or Method Be Protected Under the Copyright Act?, Lavery Bulletin, December 15, 2021
- Crypto asset works of art and non-fungible token (NFT) investments: Be careful!, Lavery Bulletin, June 28, 2021
- Heffel Gallery Limited: The National Importance of Foreign Art in Canada, Lavery Bulletin, June 3, 2019
- Projets et utopies au Québec. Les années 1960 et 1970 : entre sculpture et architecture [Projects and Utopias in Quebec. The 1960s and 1970s : Between Sculpture and Architecture], Master's thesis, December 2014
- LL.B., Université de Montréal, 2019
- Master's Degree in Art History, Université de Montréal, 2014
- Bachelor's Degree in Art History, Université de Montréal, 2011
Boards and Professional Affiliations
- ALAI Canada, comité des conférences
In Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada v. Entertainment Software Association1 (the “SOCAN Decision”), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the obligation to pay a royalty for making a work available to the public on a server, where it can later be streamed or downloaded. At the same time, it clarified the applicable standard of review for appeals where administrative bodies and courts share concurrent first instance jurisdiction and revisited the purpose of the Copyright Act2and its interpretation in light of the WIPO Copyright Treaty3. The Supreme Court also took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of the principle of technological neutrality in the application and interpretation of the Copyright Act. This reminder can also be applied to other artistic mediums and is very timely in a context where the digital visual arts market is experiencing a significant boom with the production and sale of non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”). In 2012, Canadian legislators amended the Copyright Act by adopting the Copyright Modernization Act4. These amendments incorporate Canada’s obligations under the Treaty into Canadian law by harmonizing the legal framework of Canada’s copyright laws with international rules on new and emerging technologies. The CMA introduced three sections related to “making [a work] available,” including section 2.4(1.1) of the CMA. This section applies to original works and clarifies section 3(1)(f), which gives authors the exclusive right to “communicate a work to the public by telecommunication”: 2.4(1.1) Copyright Act. “For the purposes of this Act, communication of a work or other subject-matter to the public by telecommunication includes making it available to the public by telecommunication in a way that allows a member of the public to have access to it from a place and at a time individually chosen by that member of the public.” Before the CMA came into force, the Supreme Court also found that downloading a musical work from the Internet was not a communication by telecommunication within the meaning of section 3(1)(f) of the CMA5, while streaming was covered by this section.6 Following the coming into force of the CMA, the Copyright Board of Canada (the “Board”) received submissions regarding the application of section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act. The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (“SOCAN”) argued, among other things, that section 2.42.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act required users to pay royalties when a work was published on the Internet, making no distinction between downloading, streaming and cases where works are published but never transmitted. The consequence of SOCAN’s position was that a royalty had to be paid each time a work was made available to the public, whether it was downloaded or streamed. For each download, a reproduction royalty also had to be paid, while for each stream, an additional performance royalty had to be paid. Judicial history The Board’s Decision7 The Board accepted SOCAN’s interpretation that making a work available to the public is a “communication”. According to this interpretation, two royalties are due when a work is published online. Firstly, when the work is made available to the public online, and secondly, when it is streamed or downloaded. The Board’s Decision was largely based on its interpretation of Section 8 of the Treaty, according to which the act of making a work available requires separate protection by Member States and constitutes a separately compensable activity. Federal Court of Appeal’s Decision8 Entertainment Software Association, Apple Inc. and their Canadian subsidiaries (the “Broadcasters”) appealed the Board’s Decision before the Federal Court of Appeal (“FCA”). Relying on the reasonableness standard, the FCA overturned the Board’s Decision, affirming that a royalty is due only when the work is made available to the public on a server, not when a work is later streamed. The FCA also highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the applicable review standard in appeals following Vavilov9 in cases where administrative bodies and courts share concurrent first instance jurisdiction. SOCAN Decision The Supreme Court dismissed SOCAN’s appeal seeking the reinstatement of the Board’s Decision. Appellate standards of review The Supreme Court recognized that there are rare and exceptional circumstances that create a sixth category of issues to which the standard of correctness applies, namely concurrent first instance jurisdiction between courts and administrative bodies. Does section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act entitle the holder of a copyright to the payment of a second royalty for each download or stream after the publication of a work on a server, making it publicly accessible? The copyright interests provided by section 3(1) of the Copyright Act The Supreme Court began its analysis by considering the three copyright interests protected by the Copyright Act, or in other words, namely the rights provided for in section 3(1): to produce or reproduce a work in any material form whatsoever; to perform the work in public; to publish an unpublished work. These three copyright interestsare distinct and a single activity can only engaged one of them. For example, the performance of a work is considered impermanent, allowing the author to retain greater control over their work than reproduction. Thus, “when an activity allows a user to experience a work for a limited period of time, the author’s performance right is engaged. A reproduction, by contrast, gives a user a durable copy of a work”.10 The Supreme Court also emphasized that an activity not involving one of the three copyright interests under section 3(1) of the Copyright Act or the author’s moral rights is not protected by the Copyright Act. Accordingly, no royalties should be paid in connection with such an activity. The Court reiterated its previous view that downloading a work and streaming a work are distinct protected activities, more precisely downloading is considered reproduction, while streaming is considered performance. It also pointed out that downloading is not a communication under section 3(1)(f) of the Copyright Act, and that making a work available on a server is not a compensable activity distinct from the three copyright interests.11 Purpose of the Copyright Act and the principle of technological neutrality The Supreme Court criticized the Board’s Decision, opining that it violates the principle of technological neutrality, in particular by requiring users to pay additional fees to access online works. The purpose of the CMA was to “ensure that [the Copyright Act] remains technologically neutral”12 and thereby show, at the same time, Canada’s adherence to the principle of technological neutrality. The principle of technological neutrality is further explained by the Supreme Court:  The principle of technological neutrality holds that, absent parliamentary intent to the contrary, the Copyright Act should not be interpreted in a way that either favours or discriminates against any form of technology: CBC, at para. 66. Distributing functionally equivalent works through old or new technology should engage the same copyright interests: Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada v. Bell Canada, 2012 SCC 36,  2 S.C.R. 326, at para. 43; CBC, at para. 72. For example, purchasing an album online should engage the same copyright interests, and attract the same quantum of royalties, as purchasing an album in a bricks-and-mortar store since these methods of purchasing the copyrighted works are functionally equivalent. What matters is what the user receives, not how the user receives it: ESA, at paras. 5-6 and 9; Rogers, at para. 29. In its summary to the CMA, which precedes the preamble, Parliament signalled its support for technological neutrality, by stating that the amendments were intended to “ensure that [the Copyright Act] remains technologically neutral”. According to the Supreme Court, the principle of technological neutrality must be observed in the light of the purpose of the Copyright Act, which does not exist solely for the protection of authors’ rights. Rather, the Act seeks to strike a balance between the rights of users and the rights of authors by facilitating the dissemination of artistic and intellectual works aiming to enrich society and inspire other creators. As a result, “[w]hat matters is what the user receives, not how the user receives it.”13 Thus, whether the reproduction or dissemination of the work takes place online or offline, the same copyright applies and leads to the same royalties. What is the correct interpretation of section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act? Section 8 of the Treaty The Supreme Court reiterated that international treaties are relevant at the context stage of the statutory interpretation exercise and they can be considered without textual ambiguity in the statute.14 Moreover, wherethe text permits, it must be interpreted so as to comply with Canada’s treaty obligations, in accordance with the presumption of conformity, which states that a treaty cannot override clear legislative intent.15 The Court concluded that section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act was intended to implement Canada’s obligations under Section 8 of the Treaty, and that the Treaty must therefore be taken into account in interpreting section 2.4(1.1) of the Act. Although Section 8 of the Treaty gives authors the right to control making works available to the public, it does not create a new and protected “making available” right that would be separately compensable. In such cases, there are no “distinct communications” or in other words, “distinct performances”.16 Section 8 of the Treaty creates only two obligations: “protect on demand transmissions; and give authors the right to control when and how their work is made available for downloading or streaming.”17 Canada has the freedom to choose how these two objectives are implemented in the Copyright Act, either through the right of distribution, the right of communication to the public, the combination of these rights, or a new right.18 The Supreme Court concluded that the Copyright Act gives effect to the obligations arising from Section 8 of the Treaty through a combination of the performance, reproduction, and authorization rights provided for in section 3(1) of the Copyright Act, and by respecting the principle of technological neutrality.19 Which interpretation of section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act should be followed? The purpose of section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act is to clarify the communication right in section 3(1)(f) of the Copyright Act by emphasizing its application to on-demand streaming. A single on-demand stream to a member of the public thus constitutes a “communication to the public” within the meaning of section 3(1)(f) of the Copyright Act.20 Section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act states that a work is performed as soon as it is made available for on-demand streaming.21 Therefore, streaming is only a continuation of the performance of the work, which starts when the work is made available. Only one royalty should be collected in connection with this right:  This interpretation does not require treating the act of making the work available as a separate performance from the work’s subsequent transmission as a stream. The work is performed as soon as it is made available for on-demand streaming. At this point, a royalty is payable. If a user later experiences this performance by streaming the work, they are experiencing an already ongoing performance, not starting a new one. No separate royalty is payable at that point. The “act of ‘communication to the public’ in the form of ‘making available’ is completed by merely making a work available for on?demand transmission. If then the work is actually transmitted in that way, it does not mean that two acts are carried out: ‘making available’ and ‘communication to the public’. The entire act thus carried out will be regarded as communication to the public”: Ficsor, at p. 508. In other words, the making available of a stream and a stream by a user are both protected as a single performance — a single communication to the public. In summary, the Supreme Court stated and clarified the following in the SOCAN Decision: Section 3(1)(f) of the Copyright Act does not cover download of a work. Making a work available on a server and streaming the work both involve the same copyright interest to the performance of the work. As a result, only one royalty must be paid when a work is uploaded to a server and streamed. This interpretation of section 2.4(1.1) of the Copyright Act is consistent with Canada’s international obligations for copyright protection. In cases of concurrent first instance jurisdiction between courts and administrative bodies, the standard of correctness should be applied. As artificial intelligence works of art increase in amount and as a new market for digital visual art emerges, driven by the public’s attraction for the NFT exchanges, the principle of technological neutrality is becoming crucial for understanding the copyrights attached to these new digital objects and their related transactions. Fortunately, the issues surrounding digital music and its sharing and streaming have paved the way for rethinking copyright in a digital context. It should also be noted that in decentralized and unregulated digital NFT markets, intellectual property rights currently provide the only framework that is really respected by some market platforms and may call for some degree of intervention on the part of the market platforms’ owners. 2022 SCC 30. R.S.C. (1985), c. C-42 (hereinafter the “Copyright Act”). Can. T.S. 2014 No. 20, (hereinafter the “Treaty”). S.C. 2012, c. 20 (hereinafter the “CMA”). Entertainment Software Association v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2012 SCC 34. Rogers Communications Inc. v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2012 SCC 35. Copyright Board of Canada, 2017 CanLII 152886 (hereinafter the “Board’s Decision”). Federal Court of Appeal, 2020 FCA 100 (hereinafter the “FCA’s Decision”). Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65. SOCAN Decision, par. 56. Ibid, para. 59. CMA, Preamble. SOCAN Decision, para. 70, emphasis added by the SCC. Ibid, paras. 44-45. Ibid, paras. 46-48. Ibid, paras. 74-75. Ibid, para. 88. Ibid, para. 90. Ibid, paras. 101 and 108. Ibid, paras. 91-94. Ibid, paras. 95 and 99-100.
Quebec recently enacted Bill 96, entitled An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, which aims to overhaul the Charter of the French language. Here are 10 key changes in this law that will impose significant obligations on businesses: As of June 1, 2025, businesses employing more than 25 people (currently the threshold is 50 people) for at least six months will be required to comply with various “francization”1 obligations. Businesses with between 25 and 99 employees may also be ordered by the Office québécois de la langue française (the OQLF)2 to form a francization committee. In addition, at the request of the OQLF, businesses may have to provide a francization program for review within three months. As of June 1, 2025, only trademarks registered in a language other than French (and for which no French version has been filed or registered) will be accepted as an exception to the general principle that trademarks must be translated into French. Unregistered trademarks that are not in French must be accompanied by their French equivalent. The rule is the same for products as well as their labelling and packaging; any writing must be in French. The French text may be accompanied by a translation or translations, but no text in another language may be given greater prominence than the text in French or be made available on more favourable terms. However, as of June 1, 2025, generic or descriptive terms included in a trademark registered in a language other than French (for which no French version has been registered) must be translated into French. In addition, as of June 1, 2025, on public signs and posters visible from outside the premises, (i) French must be markedly predominant (rather than being sufficiently present) and (ii) the display of trademarks that are not in French (for which no French version has been registered) will be limited to registered trademarks. As of June 1, 2022, businesses that offer goods or services to consumers must respect their right to be informed and served in French. In the event of breaches of this obligation, consumers have the right to file a complaint with the OQLF or to request an injunction unless the business has fewer than five employees. In addition, any legal person or company that provides services to the civil administration3 will be required to provide these services in French, including when the services are intended for the public. As of June 1, 2022, subject to certain criteria provided for in the bill, employers are required to draw up the following written documents in French: individual employment contracts4 and communications addressed to a worker or to an association of workers, including communications following the end of the employment relationship with an employee. In addition, other documents such as job application forms, documents relating to working conditions and training documents must be made available in French.5 As of June 1, 2022, employers who wish to require employees to have a certain level of proficiency in a language other than French in order to obtain a position must demonstrate that this requirement is necessary for the performance of the duties related to the position, that it is impossible to proceed using internal resources and that they have made efforts to limit the number of positions in their company requiring knowledge of a language other than French as much as possible. As of June 1, 2023, parties wishing to enter into a consumer contract in a language other than French, or, subject to various exceptions,6 a contract of adhesion that is not a consumer contract, must have received a French version of the contract before agreeing to it. Otherwise, a party can demand that the contract be cancelled without it being necessary to prove harm. As of June 1, 2023, the civil administration will be prohibited from entering into a contract with or granting a subsidy to a business that employs 25 or more people and that does not comply with the following obligations on the use of the French language: obtaining a certificate of registration, sending the OQLF an analysis of the language situation in the business within the time prescribed, or obtaining an attestation of implementation of a francization program or a francization certificate, depending on the case. As of June 1, 2023, all contracts and agreements entered into by the civil administration, as well as all written documents sent to an agency of the civil administration by a legal person or by a business to obtain a permit, an authorization or a subsidy or other form of financial assistance must be drawn up exclusively in French. As of September 1, 2022, a certified French translation must be attached to motions and other pleadings drawn up in English that emanate from a business or legal person that is a party to a pleading in Quebec. The legal person will bear the translation costs. The application of the provisions imposing this obligation has, however, been suspended for the time being by the Superior Court.7 As of September 1, 2022, registrations in the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights and in the Land Registry Office, in particular registrations of securities, deeds of sale, leases and various other rights, must be made in French. Note that declarations of co-ownership must be filed at the Land Registry Office in French as of June 1, 2022. The lawyers at Lavery know Quebec’s language laws and can help you understand the impact of Bill 96 on your business, as well as inform you of the steps to take to meet these new obligations. Please do not hesitate to contact one of the Lavery team members named in this article for assistance. We invite you to consult the other articles concerning the modifications made to Quebec’s Charter of the French language: Trademarks and Charter of the French language: What can you expect from Bill 96? Amendments to the Charter of the French Language: Impacts on the Insurance Sector “Francization” refers to a process established by the Charter of the French language to ensure the generalized use of French in businesses. The OQLF is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Charter of the French language. The civil administration in this law includes any public body in the broad sense of the term. An employee who signed an individual employment contract before June 1, 2022, will have until June 1, 2023, to ask their employer to provide them with a French translation if the employee so wishes. If the individual employment contract is a fixed-term employment contract that ends before June 1, 2024, the employer is not obliged to have it translated into French at the request of the employee. Employers have until June 1, 2023, to have job application forms, documents related to work conditions and training documents translated into French if these are not already available to employees in French. Among these exceptions are employment contracts, loan contracts and contracts used in “relations with persons outside Quebec.” There seems to be a contradiction in the law with regard to individual employment contracts which are contracts of adhesion and for which the obligation to provide a French translation nevertheless seems to apply. Mitchell c. Procureur général du Québec, 2022 QCCS 2983.
Bill 96 – An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec (the “Act”) - was adopted on May 12, 2022 and assented to on June 1, 2022, its effective date. Certain provisions are already in force; for other provisions, a transitional period ranging from several months to three years will apply. This document provides an overview of the modifications included in the reform of the Charter of the French Language (the “Charter”) that will have an impact on various aspects relevant to insurance sector stakeholders doing business in Québec. Forming the centrepiece of the announced changes, the reform of the Charter includes strengthened oversight mechanisms governing the use of French as the language of commerce and business, as well as linguistic rights in the areas of employment and communications with agents of the State. Overseeing the language of commerce and business The reform of Section 55 of the Charter stipulates that contracts of adhesion and related documents must be drawn up in French. However, effective June 1, 2023, a French-language version of these contracts and documents must be provided to participants First Alinea of this amended section reads as follows: 55. Contracts pre-determined by one party and the related documents, must be drawn up in French. The parties to such a contract may be bound only by its version in a language other than French if, after its French version has been remitted to the adhering party, such is their express wish. The documents related to the contract may then be drawn up exclusively in that other language.1 Therefore, contractual clauses in which the parties simply indicate that they agree to be bound by a contract drawn up in a language other than French are no longer sufficient. The Civil Code of Québec stipulates that “A contract of adhesion is a contract in which the essential stipulations were imposed or drawn up by one of the parties, on his behalf or upon his instructions, and were not negotiable.”2 To qualify a contract, the importance of the negotiated terms and conditions and their connection with the contract must be analyzed. It is generally recognized that if the essential stipulations are not negotiable, the contract is a contract of adhesion, even though some less important terms and conditions may have been negotiated by the parties. This amendment codifies the interpretation adopted by the Office québecois de la langue française (“OQLF”) and the courts,3 particularly given that negotiated contracts were not covered by this provision. To remove any doubt concerning this interpretation, Bill 96 was amended so as not to extend the scope of this requirement to include contracts containing “printed standard clauses”. The insurance contract Since their essential stipulations are typically drawn up by the insurer, insurance contracts and their endorsements are contracts of adhesion, as a general rule. Therefore, the French-language version of all related documents — notices, letters, insurance product summaries — must be provided to clients before they can decide whether they will be bound by a version drawn up in another language. During the parliamentary debates, Minister Jolin-Barette commented that Section 55 of the Charter only referred to consumers and that contracts between two companies could be drawn up in the language of their choice if that was the express wish of both parties. The term “consumer”, however, is not defined in the Charter. Ambiguity remains as to whether the Minister’s comment only referred to contracts containing standard clauses or whether contracts of adhesion were included. We will have to wait for the publication of the interpretation bulletins and the annotated edition of the act to determine whether Section 55 of the Charter applies to commercial insurance policies. In the meantime, we are of the opinion that if Québec lawmakers had wanted to exclude commercial contracts of adhesion, they would have expressly done so by means of an amendment. Insurance contracts in effect before June 1, 2023 will not have to be translated, nor will insurance contracts renewed without modifications since under those circumstances, the contract would not be regarded as a new contract.4 However, if an existing insurance contract is renewed with significant modifications, it will be regarded as a new contract and the French-language version thereof must be provided to clients so they may validly express their wish to be bound by a contract drawn up in a language other than French. Given that in most cases, insurance contracts are sent out to policyholders by regular mail or email, effective June 1, 2023, insurers, agents or brokers, as applicable, will have to send both the French-language and English-language versions of the contract in the same mailing or simply send the French-language version thereof. It is important to note that the Act provides for an exception to the requirement to provide the French-language version if: The insurance policy has no equivalent in French in Québec; and The insurance policy is originates from outside Québec or is not widely available in Québec.5 [unofficial translation] In all likelihood, this exception will only apply to highly specialized insurance products and will be interpreted restrictively given the Act’s primary objective. Unlike insurance contracts and related documents, invoices, receipts, discharge notices and other similar documents may be sent out in English if the French-language version remains available on terms that are at least as favourable.6 Services and marketing in French The Act introduces the Charter’s new Section 50.2, which states that businesses must respect consumers’ fundamental linguistic right to be informed and served in French. The same section reiterates this requirement with respect to “a public other than consumers” to whom are offered goods and services and who must henceforth be informed and served in French by businesses. Unlike consumers, however, clients who are businesses do not enjoy a fundamental linguistic right protected by the Charter. As regards marketing, the addition of the words “regardless of the medium used” to Section 52 of the Charter confirms that marketing documents in “hard copy” format must be in French, as must websites. If a version is available to the public in a language other than French, the French-language version must be available on terms that are at least as favourable. This provision took effect on June 1, 2022. Chat-type platforms or those facilitating direct communications with the insurer should make it possible for members of the public to communicate with the insurer’s representatives in French at all times. Communications with insurance agents and brokers Effective June 1, 2022, insurers are required to communicate in French with insurance agents and brokers who express the desire to do so.7 In addition, all information documents sent to insurance agents and brokers regarding underwriting or claims must be in French if they so wish. As regards contractual agreements between insurers, insurance agents and brokers, the need to provide a French-language version depends on the nature of the contract, i.e. whether it can be qualified as a contract of adhesion. French in the workplace Effective June 1, 2022, all companies doing business in Québec must comply with the following requirements in the area of employment rights: Respect employees’ right to work in French8; Use French in all written communications sent to employees; Ensure that all offers of employment, promotion or transfer; individual employment contracts; employment application forms; and documents concerning employment conditions and training sent to employees are drawn up in French;9 Take all reasonable means to avoid requiring employees to have knowledge or a specific level of knowledge of a language other than French for employees to obtain employment or to maintain their position, including in particular: Assess the actual needs associated with the duties to be performed; Make sure that the language knowledge already required from other staff members was insufficient for the performance of those duties; Restrict as much as possible the number of positions involving duties whose performance requires knowledge of or a specific level of acknowledge of a language other than French.10 It should be noted that individuals whose employment contracts are currently drawn up in English have until June 1, 2023, to ask their employer to translate their contract. Effective June 1, 2025, businesses with 25 employees or more in Québec must meet additional francization requirements for their Québec employees to obtain a francization certificate, including: Registering with the OQLF; Submitting an analysis of the status of the French language within the business; Putting in place a francization program within three months following an OQLF request to that effect. The above requirements were already in effect for businesses with more than 50 employees in Québec. French as the language of the civil administration The Act includes various modifications with respect to French as the language of the civil administration. The Québec government will be required to make exemplary and exclusive use of French, with certain exceptions. Effective June 1, 2023, all agents of the State and provincial government bodies will be required to communicate in French with all persons, including business representatives. All documents exchanged with the civil authorities, as well as all contracts and permits, must be drawn up in French. Insurance sector stakeholders outside Québec should expect to receive more communications in French from the Autorité des marchés financiers (“AMF”) given that the AMF is a body of the “civil administration”. Penalties It should be noted that new powers will be granted to the OQLF enabling it to conduct investigations and impose administrative and disciplinary penalties. As regards infractions of the Charter’s provisions, the Act provides for fines ranging from $3,000 to $30,000 for businesses and from $700 to $7,000 for individuals. These fines are doubled for a second offence and tripled for further offences. In addition, if an infraction continues for more than one day, each day constitutes a separate infraction. If an infraction is committed by a corporate director or officer, the Act provides for fines ranging from $1,400 to $14,000. Questions of interpretation Various provisions have raised questions of interpretation that are still difficult to resolve at the time of writing. Interpretation bulletins and an annotated edition of the act will be published by the provincial government with a view to guiding businesses in the application of the Act; they will also help to clarify certain provisions that remain ambiguous for the time being. For further information on changes concerning trademarks, please consult a recent publication by our colleagues specializing in intellectual property. Sec. 55, Para. 1 of the Charter. Civil Code of Québec, CQLR ch. CCQ-1991, Sec. 1379, Para. 1. Westboro Mortgage Investment vs. 9080-9013 Québec inc., 2018 Superior Court of Québec 1. Leave to appeal dismissed 2019 Court of Appeal of Québec 1599. Didier LLUELLES, Droit des assurances terrestres, 6th ed., Montréal, Éditions Thémis, 2017, Para. 186. Sec. 21.5 and Sec. 55 of the Charter. Sec. 57 of the Charter. Sec. 50.2 of the Charter. Sec. 5 and Sec. 50.2 of the Charter. Sec. 41 of the Charter. Sec. 46 of the Charter.
We are pleased to welcome Justine Beauchesne in Quebec City, Stéphanie Dubois, Gabrielle Mathieu, Gabriella Settino and Clémence Trudeau as associates on the Lavery team. Justine Beauchesne joins the Business Law group. Before beginning her law studies, Justine completed two years of studies at Université Laval in Public Affairs and International Relations. During her Bachelor of Laws, she did a semester at the University of Strasbourg, where she was able to study international law and become familiar with French law. Stéphanie Dubois joins the Business Law group. Stéphanie Dubois joined the Lavery team as a student in May 2019. She has completed her Bachelor of Civil Law at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) with honors and also holds a certificate in labour law. Gabrielle Mathieu joins the Conflict and Resolution group. She holds a bachelor degree in law from the Université de Montréal. During her studies, she was involved in the Women and Law Committee as well as in the Mediation Clinic of the Université de Montréal. She also assisted two judges of the Superior Court during a one-year internship completed in her senior year of the bachelor degree. Gabriella Settino joins the Business Law group. During her legal studies, Gabriella has volunteered for Pro Bono Students Canada as a researcher for a project about family law and as a vice-president for the organization’s McGill Chapter. She was also involved in health and wellness initiatives at the Faculty through her work with Healthy Legal Minds | Juristes en santé, where she was co-leading a project that provides peer-to-peer support to students in the faculty. Clémence Trudeau joins the Conflict and Resolution group. During her law studies, Clémence became involved in various committees, including the sports law committee, where she organized several talks for her peers given by influential professionals in the field. She also participated in the Pierre-Basile-Mignault Moot Court Competition, where she ranked as the 8th best litigant in the competition. In addition, she participated in a clinic.