1955 Formal beginnings
The Legislative Assembly of the Government of Québec, under the leadership of Maurice Duplessis, embarked on a reform of the Civil Code of Lower Canada with the passage of the Act respecting the revision of the Civil Code. This was the enabling legislation for the revision. This Act provided that a jurist would be appointed to prepare a proposal to amend the Code. The jurist selected was Thibaudeau Rinfret, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
1960 True beginnings
An Act to amend the Act respecting the revision of the Civil Code was adopted. It provided for the appointment of four codifiers who examined the reports, opinions, proposed amendments and recommendations of the jurist appointed in 1955, and developed a definitive draft of a new Civil Code. (An Act to amend the Act respecting the revision of the Civil Code, Statutes of the Province of Quebec, 1959-1960, chapter 97.)
Thibaudeau Rinfret ceased his functions and was replaced by André Nadeau, who gave a new impetus to the revision of the Civil Code. The group now led by André Nadeau is known as the "Civil Code Revision Bureau" (Bureau de révision du Code civil).
The concept of the commercial pledge without loss of possession regarding moveable property was established by adding a new chapter to the Civil Code at sections 1079 and following. (An Act respecting pledge, Statutes of the Province of Quebec, 1962, chapter 57)
Major changes to the legal capacity of married women were made. New provisions were introduced that gave equal rights to both spouses regarding direction of the family, required the husband to provide his wife with the necessities of life, allowed one spouse to give power of attorney to the other, gave married woman full legal capacity subject to restrictions that might result from the matrimonial regime, and removed the obligation for the wife to obey her husband. (An Act respecting the legal capacity of married women, Statutes of the Province of Quebec, 1964, chapter 66.)
A new part called "Of equity in certain contracts" was added to the general provisions of the Code related to obligations. Its purpose was to temper the effects of contractual freedom. (An Act to protect borrowers against certain abuses and lenders against certain privileges, Statutes of the Province of Quebec, 1964, chapter 67.)
Improved indemnification for victims was incorporated into both the Workmen’s Compensation Act (R.S.Q. 1964, c. 159) and the Highway Victims Indemnity Act (R.S.Q. 1964, c. 232)
Professor Paul-André Crépeau, previously the Secretary of the Civil Code Revision Bureau, replaced André Nadeau, who was appointed to the judiciary.
The Quebec Civil Code Revision Office, the administrative structure assigned the task of reforming the C.C.L.C., was created. Its mandate was to complete the analysis and proposal for a new Civil Code. It created a number of committees to make recommendations on the reform of various areas of the civil law. Many reports were published by the Office for consultation purposes.
The Quebec Civil Code Revision Office embarked upon a comprehensive review of the Code.
A colloquium was organized to mark the centennial of the Civil Code of Lower Canada. Its proceedings were subsequently published in two volumes.
The Code recognized the validity of civil marriages performed by a lay officer. (An Act respecting civil marriage, Statutes of the Province of Québec, 1968, chapter 82.)
A draft for inclusion of civil rights within the Code was submitted. This was to strengthen the Code but would not replace a complete charter of human rights.
A new chapter that established co-ownership by declaration (divided co-ownership) was adopted. (An Act respecting the co-ownership of immoveables, Statutes of the Province of Québec, 1969, chapter 76.)
The community of property was replaced by the partnership of acquests as the legal regime that applied in the absence of other provisions by the spouses. The spouses could now modify their matrimonial regime or their marriage contract during the marriage. The solemnization of civil marriage occurred. Inequalities between spouses were removed (the need to obtain authorization to accept a succession, a gift or the function of the testamentary executor was eliminated). (An Act respecting matrimonial regimes, Statutes of the Province of Québec, 1969, chapter 77.)
Establishment of the declaratory judgment of death. (An Act respecting declaratory judgments of death, Statutes of the Province of Quebec, 1969, chapter 79.)
Amendments were made to grant certain rights to natural children. This was a first step towards the recognition of the equality of children, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth. (An Act to amend the Civil Code respecting natural children, Statutes of the Province of Québec, 1970, chapter 62.)
The consumer contract was placed outside the realm of normal rules and became governed by a specific legal regime provided for in a distinct Act. (Consumer Protection Act, Statutes of the Province of Québec, 1971, chapter 74.)
There was a comprehensive revision of Title 1 of Chapter 1 of the Code, which pertained to the enjoyment of civil rights. The notion of legal entity giving right to the exercise of civil rights was established. Statement of the principle of the inviolability of the person. Determination of the criteria for benefiting from civil rights (consent to medical care, disposal of the body and funerals). Elimination of the deprivation of civil rights. Removal of the concept of civil degradation, which precluded the person considered as civilly dead from entering into a contract or being a witness to a will and deprived his or her own will of any effect. (An Act to again amend the Civil Code and to amend the Act to abolish civil death, Statutes of the Province of Québec, 1971, chapter 84.)
The age of majority was lowered from 21 to 18. (An Act to again amend the Civil Code, Statutes of the Province of Québec, 1971, chapter 85.)
A bill to protect the principal family residence was submitted. It attempted to check the right of either spouse from disposing of the property, contrary to the family’s interest.
1973The provision on the lease of things was comprehensively revised. (An Act respecting the lease of things, Statutes of Québec, 1973, chapter 74.)
Act of burial was replaced by record of death.
Provisions related to insurance contracts were modernized and reorganized. (An Act respecting insurance, Statutes of Québec, 1974, chapter 70.)
Divorce, as a remedy, was included in the amendments to the family law.
Charter of human rights and freedoms was adopted. The Quebec Charter has had a major impact on all legislation adopted after its enactment, including the Civil Code.
The law on obligations underwent significant change. This included providing detailed rules on offer and acceptance and on contracts between persons not present. As well, lesion between persons of full age was re-introduced, abusive clauses were severely penalized and rules for nullity and unjustified enrichment were provided. The recourses available in law when obligations had not been fulfilled were also amended.
In the law of sale, the vendor was no longer required to ensure useful and peaceable possession of the sold item. Changes were also made to the sale of immoveable property, the law on latent defects and the laws concerning warranty of the item sold.
Many changes were made to the rules on successions. This included increasing the consort’s legal portion of the succession in various cases (this is in both the cases of married and de facto consorts). As well, the definitions of various descendants were included. Finally, the provisions concerning authentic wills and how they were produced were modified (for example, it no longer had to be read before witnesses).
The right to sue for damages regarding accidents covered by the new Automobile Insurance Act was eliminated. (Statutes of Québec, 1977, chapter 68.)
The notion of paternal authority was replaced by that of parental authority. (An Act to amend the Civil Code, Statutes of Québec, 1977, chapter 72.)
Consultations were held on the reports produced by the Office.
The Civil Code Revision Office submitted its report to the government, which tabled it in the National Assembly in the form of a draft Civil Code, accompanied by two volumes of comments. This report provided the basis for the reform of the Civil Code.
The rules on leases were reformed. The new provisions completed those of 1973 and were more specifically aimed at the lease of a dwelling. (An Act to establish the Régie du logement and to amend the Civil Code and other legislation, Statutes of Québec, 1979, chapter 48.)
The Quebec parliament approved the principle of the creation of a new Civil Code of Québec but decided to spread out the enactment of various parts over a long period.
On 19 December, after numerous public consultations, the National Assembly adopted the family law reform. (An Act to establish a new Civil Code and to reform family law, Statutes of Québec, 1980, chapter 39.)
In the 1980s, the Minister of Justice developed several reform proposals and released them for public consultation. These proposals dealt with the law of persons, the law of successions and property law. They led to the adoption of an Act in 1987. Other proposals were related to real property security and the publicity of rights, obligations, evidence, time limitations and private international law.
During this period, the adoption of specific provisions to deal with pressing matters significantly transformed the Civil Code. Such provisions included the enactment in 1986 of measures on arbitration and, in 1989, the creation of the concept of family patrimony and the reform of the public administrator function and of the rules protecting those of the age of majority.
Proposals for reform would follow in 1982 and 1983 with the tabling in the National Assembly of bills relating to the law of persons, the law of successions and propery law.
The reform of family law was consolidated with the adoption of an Act ensuring the application of the reform of family law, S.Q. 1982, c. 17.
The articles governing international adoption were substantially amended.
The articles governing international adoption were substantially amended again.
Multiple bills were combined (law of persons, law of successions, propery law) into Bill 20, which was subsequently adopted officially on 15 April 1987. It never came into force however.
December 1986 to June 1988
Broad consultations were held on three draft bills: real security and publication of rights; obligations and evidence; prescription and international private law
A number of amendments were made to the family law provisions of the Civil Code of Lower Canada and the Civil Code of Québec to address pressing needs. The new provisions dealt with arbitration law reform, co-ownership and emphyteusis, the establishment of family patrimony and reform of public curatorship and the protective supervision of persons of full age.
The articles governing international adoption, which had been substantially amended in 1983 and 1987, were revised.
On 18 December, Bill 125, on the Civil Code of Québec, was tabled at the National Assembly by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec, Gil Rémillard. This Bill integrated the provisions of previous Bills and took into account the comments and suggestions that had been made during the extensive consultations that had subsequently taken place.
Bill 125 was reviewed clause by clause by a parliamentary sub-committee. One thousand amendments were made to the Bill.
On 18 December 1991, the Civil Code of Québec was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly.( Civil Code of Québec, Statutes of Québec, 1991, chapter 64.)
18 December: the National Assembly adopts An Act respecting the implementation of the reform of the Civil Code, which organizes the transition from the old code to the new one. (Statutes of Québec, 1992, chapter 57.)
January 1, the new Civil Code of Québec came into force.