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Enforcement of A US or Canadian Judgment in Quebec

Looking to find out more information about the enforcement of a US or Canadian judgment in Quebec?

Perhaps you are evaluating if it’s worth it for you to enforce your judgment against a defendant located in Quebec or having assets in Quebec?

No matter the reason, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we discuss the enforcement of a US or Canadian judgment in the Province of Quebec in detail. We’ll present to you the applicable laws, understand what is the enforcement process and the grounds based on which a Quebec court may refuse the enforcement of your US or Canadian judgment.

This article is divided into the following sections for your ease of navigation:

Let’s begin.

The Applicable Law In Quebec

The Province of Quebec is a civil law jurisdiction whereas all other Canadian Provinces are common law jurisdictions.

As a result, the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments such as judgments issued in the United States or other Canadian provinces will need to follow the substantive laws outlined in the Civil Code of Quebec and the procedural requirements of the Code of Civil Procedures.

All foreign judgments, in other words, all judgments rendered by a court outside of the Province of Quebec will need to be recognized by the Quebec courts to acquire an executory status in the Province of Quebec. 

What is Recognition vs Enforcement of a Judgment?

When we say recognition or enforcement of a foreign judgment, what do we mean?

Recognition of a foreign judgment is the validation by the Quebec courts of the foreign judgment.

The foreign judgment will be given an equivalent status as a judgment rendered in Quebec by a Quebec court. 

To enforce a judgment, you must first have the competent Quebec court recognize the foreign judgment.

Once the foreign judgment is recognized, you can then enforce the same against the defendant.

So enforcement is the step subsequent to the recognition of the judgment.

When a judgment is enforceable in Quebec for example, you can demand payment from the defendant.

Failure to receive immediate payment, you can legally seizre the defendant’s assets or property located anywhere in the Province of Quebec. 

Recognizing a Canadian judgment rendered in the United States, Canada or abroad will follow the same recognition and enforcement procedures.

Enforcement Process of a US or a Canadian Judgment in Quebec

We have determined that you can recognize and enforce a US judgment or a Canadian judgment in Quebec based on Quebec’s civil laws and procedures.

Practically speaking, what is the enforcement process?

Generally, a US judgment or a Canadian judgment will be recognized in Quebec.

The Quebec courts have confidence that judgments rendered across Canada or in the US follow provide sufficient guarantees that the fundamental rights of the parties.

There are certain legal validations that must be done by the Quebec courts before recognizing a foreign judgment but in most cases, a judgment from a US court or Canadian court should not pose any particular challenges.

Can The Quebec Courts Refuse The Enforcement of a US or Canadian Judgment?

Quebec courts can refuse the enforcement of a US judgment or Canadian judgment if it falls within exceptions outlined in the Civil Code of Quebec.

The exceptions are as follows:

  1. The issuing court had no jurisdiction to render its judgment
  2. The judgment is subject to appeal and not yet final
  3. The judgment did not respect the fundamental principles of procedure
  4. A Quebec court had already rendered a decision or there is a pending matter between the same parties, on the same facts and having the same object
  5. The judgment is manifestly inconsistent with public order 
  6. The judgment enforces obligations arising from the taxation laws of a foreign State or Province

Enforcement Refusal For Lack of Jurisdiction

The Quebec courts will enforce a US judgment or Canadian judgment if the court rendering the same had proper jurisdiction over the dispute.

The Civil Code sets out the rules where the Quebec Court will not recognize the jurisdiction of the foreign court in the following instances: 

  1. Where based on subject matter or agreement of the parties, Quebec law grants exclusive jurisdiction to Quebec authorities
  2. Where based on subject matter or agreement of the parties, Quebec laws recognize the exclusive jurisdiction of another foreign authority 
  3. Where under Quebec law, the exclusive jurisdiction has been conferred to an arbitrator

Enforcement Refusal As Judgment Is Not Finance And Enforceable

For the Quebec courts to enforce the US judgment or Canadian judgment, the said judgment must be final and enforceable in the jurisdiction where it was rendered. 

If the foreign judgment is subject to appeal or an ordinary remedy, then the Quebec courts will not recognize and enforce it.

Enforcement Refusal For Violation of Fundamental Principles of Procedure

The Quebec laws require that a foreign judgment be enforced if the defendant had a fair and equitable chance to present a defense and be heard.

This is a fundamental principle of justice that must be observed for the Quebec courts to enforce the foreign judgment.

If a judgment was rendered by default without clear evidence that the defendant was duly served or the defendant had a chance to be heard in court, the Quebec courts will be reluctant to enforce that judgment.

Enforcement Refusal As A Quebec Judgment Was Already Rendered or Pending

If a legal action is pending between the same parties, based on the same facts and subject or a judgment has already been rendered by a Quebec court on the same matter, then the US judgment or Canadian judgment will not be enforced. 

The enforcement will be refused even if the foreign judgment is legally enforceable in the jurisdiction where it was rendered. 

Enforcement Refusal For Manifest Violation of Public Order

The Quebec court will evaluate the public order as it is understood in its international relations.

In other words, the US judgment will be enforced if it is not manifestly contrary to any moral, societal, political and economic values in internal legal orders such as the United Nations Charter or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Enforcement Refusal Based On Taxation Law Reciprocity

The Quebec court will enforce a US or Canadian tax judgment where the tax laws of that state also recognize and enforce taxation laws of Quebec. 

If a foreign state does not recognize a Quebec taxation law, the the Quebec courts will refuse the enforcement

Takeaways

US judgments can be enforced in Quebec as well as Canadian judgments rendered outside of the Province of Quebec. 

The Quebec courts will apply the substantive laws of the Civil Code of Quebec along with the procedural requirements of the Code of Civil Procedure to enforce any foreign judgment.

There are six grounds based on which a US judgment or Canadian judgment will not be enforced in Quebec:

  1. The issuing court had no jurisdiction to render its judgment
  2. The judgment is subject to appeal and not yet final
  3. The judgment did not respect the fundamental principles of procedure
  4. A Quebec court had already rendered a decision or there is a pending matter between the same parties, on the same facts and having the same object
  5. The judgment is manifestly inconsistent with public order 
  6. The judgment enforces obligations arising from the taxation laws of a foreign State or Province

If you have a US judgment you’d like to enforce in Quebec or a Canadian judgment rendered by any Canadian Province, we recommend that you consult a Quebec civil attorney who can guide you in the process.

Depending on the nature of your case, a Quebec civil attorney will quickly identify the nuances and intricacies that may impact your ability to enforce a US judgment or Canadian judgment in Quebec.

Our law firm is happy to support you in your enforcement journey. Contact us so we can discuss how to carry out your mandate.

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