Civil Code of Quebec
The Civil Code of Quebec (CCQ) is the civil code
Civil code
A civil code is a systematic collection of laws designed to comprehensively deal with the core areas of private law. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure...

 in force in the province of Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. The Civil Code of Quebec came into effect on January 1, 1994, except for certain parts of the book on Family Law
Family law
Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

 which were adopted by the National Assembly
National Assembly of Quebec
The National Assembly of Quebec is the legislative body of the Province of Quebec. The Lieutenant Governor and the National Assembly compose the Parliament of Quebec, which operates in a fashion similar to those of other British-style parliamentary systems.The National Assembly was formerly the...

 in the 1980s. It replaced the Civil Code of Lower Canada
Civil Code of Lower Canada
Civil Code of Lower Canada was the civil code in force in Lower Canada from July 1, 1866 to June 30, 1867 and in Quebec from July 1, 1867 to December 31, 1993...

  enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada
Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada
The Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada was the lower house of the legislature for the Province of Canada, which consisted of the former provinces of Lower Canada, then known as Canada East and later the province of Quebec, and Upper Canada, then known as Canada West and later the...

 in 1865, and which had been in force since July 1, 1866.

Scope of the Civil Code

The Code's scope is summarized in its preliminary provision:
The Civil Code of Quebec, in line with the Charter of human rights and freedoms and the general principles of law, governs people, their relationships with one another, and property.

The Civil Code is in essence a body of rules and regulations that, in all matters treated by or in the spirit or vein of its provisions, sets forth the jus commune, or the law that applies to all of Quebec, either in express or implied terms. For the matters handled by the Code, it acts as the foundation of all other adjacent laws, although other laws may supplement the Code or make exceptions to it.

As the cornerstone of Quebec's legal system, the Civil Code is frequently amended in order to keep in step with the demands of modern society.

The Civil Code of Quebec comprises over 3,000 sections and is structured into major divisions and subdivisions called books, titles, chapters and subsections. The Code is made up of ten books:
  1. Persons
  2. The Family
  3. Successions
  4. Property
  5. Obligations
  6. Prior Claims and Hypothecs
  7. Evidence
  8. Prescription
  9. Publication of Rights
  10. Private International Law

French Colonial Era

From 1608 to 1664, the first colonists of New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 followed the customary law in effect for their province of origin in France. In 1664, the King of France decreed in Article 33 of the decree establishing the West India Company that the Coutume de Paris would serve as the main source of law throughout New France. Later, authorities went on to add le droit français de la métropole, that is, French law. This included royal decrees and ordinances (ordonnances royales), canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 relating to marriages, and Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 relating to obligations, e.g. contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

s and tort
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general...

s. Also in force were the ordinances issued by Royal Intendants (ordonnances des intendants) and the orders and judgments handed down by the Conseil souverain.

The Royal Intendant
The title of intendant has been used in several countries through history. Traditionally, it refers to the holder of a public administrative office...

 was responsible for administering justice in the colony, and lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

s were barred from practicing in the colony. Most disputes were resolved by local notaries
Civil law notary
Civil-law notaries, or Latin notaries, are lawyers of noncontentious private civil law who draft, take, and record legal instruments for private parties, provide legal advice and give attendance in person, and are vested as public officers with the authentication power of the State...

 or local parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s through arbitration
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution , is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons , by whose decision they agree to be bound...

 in a manner much as had been done in ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

. While the reliance on feudal French law meant that New France was divided into fiefs
Seigneurial system of New France
The seigneurial system of New France was the semi-feudal system of land distribution used in the North American colonies of New France.-Introduction to New France:...

 (seigneurie), the feudal lords (or seigneurs) were not entitled to the same judicial discretion in New France as they had in France; as it was, all criminal jurisdiction went to the Intendant. Therefore, while the Custom of Paris was the law of New France, there was few resources available for colonists to actually enforce that law.

Under the British Empire

Following France's relinquishment of Canada in favour of Guadaloupe in the Treaty of Paris (1763)
Treaty of Paris (1763)
The Treaty of Paris, often called the Peace of Paris, or the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763, by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement. It ended the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

, Canada came under British law. However, the seigneurial system of land tenure
Land tenure
Land tenure is the name given, particularly in common law systems, to the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to "hold" the land . The sovereign monarch, known as The Crown, held land in its own right. All private owners are either its tenants or sub-tenants...

 continued to be applied uniformly throughout the province. In 1774, as a result of a ruling by the British courts in Campbell v Hall about the status of legal systems found in acquired territories, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act
Quebec Act
The Quebec Act of 1774 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec...

 which restored the former French civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 for private law while keeping and reserving English common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 for public law including criminal prosecution. As a result, modern-day Quebec is now one of only a handful of bijuridical jurisdictions in the world where two legal systems co-exist.

The Quebec Act was opposed by the English minority who believed that British citizens should be governed by English law
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

. The Constitutional Act of 1791
Constitutional Act of 1791
The Constitutional Act of 1791, formally The Clergy Endowments Act, 1791 , is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain...

 resolved the dispute through the creation of Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 west of the Ottawa River
Ottawa River
The Ottawa River is a river in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. For most of its length, it now defines the border between these two provinces.-Geography:...

 (subject to English common law) and Lower Canada
Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 around the St. Lawrence River (where civil law was maintained).

Adoption of the Civil Code of Lower Canada

The substantive law of the 1866 Civil Code of Lower Canada was derived primarily from the judicial interpretations of the law that had been in force to that date in Lower Canada. The work of the Commission on codification was also inspired by some of the modernizations found in the 1804 Napoleonic code
Napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified...

. At the time of Canadian Confederation
Canadian Confederation
Canadian Confederation was the process by which the federal Dominion of Canada was formed on July 1, 1867. On that day, three British colonies were formed into four Canadian provinces...

, the Civil Code of Lower Canada replaced most of the laws inherited from the Custom of Paris and incorporated some English law as it had been applied in Lower Canada such as the English law of trust
Investment trust
An Investment trust is a form of collective investment found mostly in the United Kingdom. Investment trusts are closed-end funds and are constituted as public limited companies....

s. The former Civil Code was also inspired by the Louisiana Civil Code, the Field Code movement in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 and the law of the Canton de Vaud
Vaud is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland and is located in Romandy, the French-speaking southwestern part of the country. The capital is Lausanne. The name of the Canton in Switzerland's other languages are Vaud in Italian , Waadt in German , and Vad in Romansh.-History:Along the lakes,...


The Revised Civil Code of Quebec

In 1955, the Government of Quebec embarked on a reform of the Civil Code with the passage of the Act respecting the revision of the Civil Code (Loi concernant la révision du Code civil) .The Civil Code Revision Office was established, which produced reports, held consultations, and presented a Draft Civil Code with commentaries to the Quebec National Assembly in 1978. After further consultations during the 1980s, portions of the Book on the Law of the Family were adopted. The consultation process continued through to the early 1990s, and the Civil Code of Quebec was passed into law in its entirety on December 18, 1991, coming into effect in 1994.

The Government of Canada
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 undertook a review of all federal laws that deal with private law to ensure that they took into consideration the terminology, concepts and institutions of Quebec civil law and on January 31, 2001, tabled the Federal Law—Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1. This bill was passed by the Parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 and received Royal Assent on May 10, 2001. The follow-up Federal Law—Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 2. was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent on December 15, 2004.

The reform process that led to the replacement of the Civil Code of Lower Canada by the Civil Code of Quebec was one of the largest legislative recodification undertakings in any civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...


The Civil Code of Quebec was a complete restatement of the civil law in Quebec as of the date of its adoption, including judicial interpretation of codal provisions that include broad privacy
Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively...

 and personality rights
Personality rights
"Personality rights" is a common or casual reference to the proper term of art "Right of Publicity". The Right of Publicity can be defined simply as the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness or other unequivocal aspects of one's identity...

 protection and the adoption of a section on the patrimony of affectation
Patrimony of affectation
In the civil law tradition the patrimony of affectation is a patrimony, or legal entitlement, that can be divided for a purpose, as being distinct from the general patrimony of the person. It is similar to the common law concept of the trust in some aspects where property is held by an...


External links

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