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Case Protocol (Legal Procedure: Civil Lawsuits In Quebec)

What is a Case Protocol in Quebec legal proceedings?

How does it work?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our rules of civil procedure in Quebec!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is A Case Protocol 

The Civil Code of Procedures in Quebec requires that the parties to a lawsuit collaborate with one another to define and establish a “case protocol” governing the conduct of the civil proceedings.

In French, it’s referred to as “protocole de l’instance”.

You can think of a case protocol to include a laundry list of different tasks, activities, and deadlines the parties agree to perform and observe.

For example, in a case protocol, the parties will need to agree on whether or not they wish to hold a settlement conference, or file a preliminary exception, present safeguard orders to the court etc.

To standardize the process, the Quebec Court, Superior Court, and other courts have adopted a template or case protocol form that litigants are required to use when involved in a lawsuit.

This article is intended to give you a general idea of how case protocols work in Quebec.

If you are dealing with a lawsuit either as a plaintiff or defendant and are looking for information on how to handle a case protocol, you should call an experienced lawyer knowledgeable in litigation, court procedures, and civil lawsuits in general.

Let’s look at the legal definition of a case protocol and what information it must include.

Case Protocol Legal Definition

The Civil Code of Procedures in Quebec requires that the parties establish a case protocol for the orderly conduct of the legal proceedings.

Article 148 CCP states:

A hypothec is movable or immovable depending on whether it charges movable or immovable property or a universality of movable or immovable property.The parties are required to co-operate to either arrive at a settlement or establish a case protocol. In the case protocol, the parties set out their agreements and undertakings and the issues in dispute, indicate the consideration given to private dispute prevention and resolution processes, describe the steps to be taken to ensure the orderly conduct of the proceeding, assess the time completing these steps could require and the foreseeable legal costs, and set the deadlines to be met within the strict time limit for trial readiness.
Author

As you can see, the essence of a case protocol is for the parties to agree (or attempt to agree) on:

  • The different steps to be taken to ensure the proper advancement and progression of the legal proceedings
  • The parties’ assessment of how long they will need to complete each of their tasks
  • How much the parties anticipate in legal costs 
  • The deadline for the matter to be ready to proceed to trial 

Content of A Case Protocol

The Quebec procedural laws define the content of a case protocol.

In other words, case protocols must contain information that meets the minimum requirements of the law, namely:

  • Will there be preliminary exceptions presented?
  • Will there be safeguard orders?
  • Will the parties want to hold a settlement conference?
  • Will there be pre-trial or oral examinations?
  • Will the parties want to file an expert opinion?
  • Will the defendant file an oral or written defense?
  • Will there be pre-trial discovery and disclosures?
  • Will the parties file any incidental applications?
  • What method of notification will the parties use?

In certain situations, if the lawsuit is quite complex or in special situations where the parties cannot reasonably determine all the tasks, activities, and deadlines, a complementary case protocol may be filed.

In most cases, the lawyers or the parties will agree on the content of the case protocol.

However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they will need to identify the disputed elements of the case protocol so the court can eventually order the parties how to proceed.

Filing Deadline of Case Protocols

A civil lawsuit in Quebec begins when the plaintiff serves the defendant with an application originating proceedings (that includes the complaint and a summons) and produces the original of the application in the record of the court.

The date when the defendant was served with the summons marks the date where the deadline for the filing of the case protocol is evaluated.

In a civil lawsuit, article 149 CCP states that a case protocol must be “filed with the court office within 45 days after service of the summons”.

In family law matters, the parties have three months (90 days) to complete the case protocol.

Case Protocol Court Ratification

Once a case protocol is filed in the office of the court, the court will have twenty (20) days to review the same to ensure that the guiding principles of the procedure are observed by the parties.

If the court believes that the case protocol filed by the parties is reasonable and makes sense, after the passing of 20 days, the document will be deemed approved and binding on the parties.

However, if the court believes that something in the case protocol must be changed, the protocol is not reasonable, or aspects of it are under dispute, the court will call the parties to a case management conference.

In the case management conference, the court will expose the issues and let the parties be heard.

Ultimately, the court will render an order on the case protocol resolving any outstanding issues and ordering the parties to comply with it.

Amendment of Case Protocol

Once a case protocol is ratified by the court or, further to a case management conference, the parties are ordered to comply with certain procedural guidelines, the protocol is legally binding on the parties.

As such, the parties must respect the tasks and deadlines outlined in the case protocol failure of which they may be exposed to sanctions such as paying the legal costs incurred by the parties (or third parties) caused by a party’s failure to respect the protocol.

With regards to the amendment, article 150 CCP states:

The parties cannot amend the case protocol without the approval of the court unless the amendment pertains to the agreed time limits or facilitates the conduct of the proceeding, and is not inconsistent with specific decisions of the court; the parties are required to file all amendments to the case protocol with the court office.
Author

In other words, the case protocol can be amended only if it is approved by the court.

Obligation To Collaborate

The parties to a civil lawsuit in Quebec have an obligation to collaborate with one another to mutually agree and file a case protocol in the record of the court.

In certain cases, it may happen that a party may fail to collaborate in this process.

When that happens, a party may file a “case protocol proposal” within the legally allotted timelines outlining to the court what it considers to be a reasonable protocol.

If the proposed protocol is not disputed within ten days of its filing, then it will serve as the case protocol governing the parties.

However, the other party may indicate the points on which they are unable to reach an agreement.

In some cases, the parties have so many differences that they are not capable of establishing case protocol, in that case, each party may file its own proposal and state the points on which they are unable to agree.

The court will eventually either convene the parties to be heard on the case protocol helping them establish one or even establish a case protocol “on its own initiative”.

Case Protocols Takeaways 

So what is the legal definition of Case Protocol?

What does it entail?

Although this article is intended for general consumption only, if you are dealing with a civil lawsuit and have questions about how to proceed, you should consult with a qualified civil lawyer or litigation attorney.

Legal proceedings can get complex and confusing, it may be best to consult with a lawyer at a minimum before taking any steps that may adversely affect your case.

With that said, let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Case Protocol In Quebec Legal Proceedings

  • A ‘case protocol’ is a legal document filed by parties to a civil lawsuit in the province of Quebec setting out various tasks, activities, and deadlines governing the legal proceedings
  • Once the defendant is served with a complaint and summons, the parties must file the case protocol within 45 days of the defendant was served with the summons
  • The Quebec Civil Code of Procedures dictates the content of a case protocol which includes things like whether the parties will present preliminary exceptions, safeguard orders, defense arguments, pre-trial discovery, and disclosures etc
  • If the parties do not agree on the content of a case protocol, they may submit a case protocol proposal that the court can consider 
  • Once a case protocol is ratified by the court, it is legally binding on the parties and cannot be amended unless approved by the court 
Case management conference 
Civil court Quebec
Civil proceedings 
Defense 
Judgment 
Originating application 
Pleadings
Quebec Court
Rules of civil procedure
Settlement conference 
Subpoena duces tecum 
Superior Court of Quebec
Summons
Trial
Author
Alternative dispute resolution 
Civil Code of Quebec
Civil lawyer 
Class action lawsuit 
Commercial dispute
Contractual dispute 
Court transcripts 
Expert witness 
Fact witness 
Impleaded party
Interrogatories 
Litigation lawyer 
Mandatory injunction 
Seizure before judgment
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