History of the C.C.R.O.

The archives contain the working papers of one of the principal organs for private law reform in Quebec history. While the Civil Code of Lower Canada had initially been contemplated by some as a timeless document which would rarely need to be changed, it was subject to important and regular amendments throughout its 125 year history. However it was not until 1955 that the Quebec legislature decided to revise systematically the Code with a view to giving renewed expression to the general law and to render it more in step with the social, political and economic realities affecting private law relations in Quebec. The Civil Code Revision Office was created in that year. Its first chairman was the Hon. Thibaudeau Rinfret, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who was replaced in 1961 by an advocate, André Nadeau, and, then, by Professor Paul-André Crépeau of McGill University in 1966.

The task before the C.C.R.O. was an enormous one: to update the 1866 Code by rethinking it in its entirety, to recast the relationship between the Civil Code and an increasingly complex body of statutory law, and finally to articulate the basis for reform and revision in each of the areas that a new code might touch upon. Rather than proceeding with the whole recodification at once, the C.C.R.O. was called upon by the government to work in stages, with some important parts of its effort culminating in major modification to the body of Quebec private law, enacted during the course of its mandate and thereafter. The end goal was to provide the Quebec legislature with a draft code that was to replace completely the Civil Code of Lower Canada. This draft was completed in 1977, and the resulting publication contains explanatory notes not unlike the codifiers' reports published in 1865 just before the enactment of the Civil Code of Lower Canada.