The Court of Québec
The Court of Québec is a court of first instance that has jurisdiction in civil, criminal and penal matters as well as in matters relating to young persons. It also has jurisdiction over administrative matters and appeals where provided for by law.
The Court of Québec is made up of 290 judges, appointed by the Government of Québec for life. It is under the direction of a chief judge assisted by a senior associate chief judge and four associate chief judges. Ten associate coordinating judges and twelve assistant coordinating judges assist the chief judge and the senior associate chief judge in their duties.
The Court of Québec has three divisions: the Civil Division (that includes the Small Claims Division), the Criminal and Penal Division, and the Youth Division.
The Civil Division
The Civil Division has jurisdiction throughout Québec and sits in all judicial districts. It hears cases where the amount in dispute is less than $70,000, with the exception of applications for child or spousal support and matters within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Canada such as cases involving federal income tax.
The Civil Division also hears petitions for psychiatric examinations and proceedings concerning voluntary deposits and municipal and school matters. It has exclusive jurisdiction to hear appeals from certain decisions made by the Administrative Tribunal of Québec and other administrative tribunals such as the Régie du logement.
The Small Claims Division
The Small Claims Division deals with all claims up to $7,000 made by natural persons, or by legal persons, partnerships or associations that have employed no more than five people in the twelve months prior to the claim. The types of claims heard may involve, for example, breach of contract or damage to another person’s property.
Procedure in the Small Claims Division is simple and informal. The claimant cannot be represented by a lawyer, unless allowed because of the complexity of the case. The proceedings are conducted by the judge, who examines the witnesses and hears the parties. Judgments in the Small Claims Division are final and cannot be appealed.
It is important to note that this Division also hears various tax cases involving both income tax and other types of taxes. A taxpayer may file an appeal concerning a tax matter to this Division. Since this question is relatively complex, it is preferable to contact Revenu Québec for more information.
The Criminal and Penal Division
The Criminal and Penal Division has jurisdiction throughout Québec. Unless otherwise specified by law, all proceedings under the Criminal Code, the Code of Penal Procedure and all other regulatory offence statutes are heard by this Division.
In criminal matters, the Division tries offences punishable on summary conviction under Part XVII of the Criminal Code and proceedings under the jurisdiction of a provincial court judge or a judge sitting without a jury. Cases include theft, breach of a driving prohibition, and assault in the form of threats or assault without bodily injury. This Division hears all criminal proceedings with the exception of those that take place before a court composed of a judge and jury or that are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Superior Court.
In penal matters, the Division hears proceedings for offences under provincial and federal legislation.
The Youth Division
The Youth Division hears all cases involving minors such as applications under the Youth Protection Act concerning the security or development of a child under 18 years of age. It also hears adoption cases.
In criminal matters, the Youth Division applies the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It hears first instance cases in which individuals between the ages of 12 and 18 are accused of offences under the Criminal Code (including murder) and other federal statutes.
In penal matters, the Youth Division applies the Code of Penal Procedure and hears cases involving individuals between the ages of 14 and 18 who are accused of offences under Québec statutes and municipal by-laws.