Québec City, March 15, 2020. – The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec, Sonia LeBel, has announced that new security measures will apply in Québec’s courthouses and in all the premises made available to courts and administrative tribunals, starting on Monday. The measures reflect the policies announced by the Québec government to halt the spread of COVID-19, and protect the general public along with all individuals working in the buildings concerned.
From Monday, all hearings scheduled at a court, administrative tribunal or public administration body will take place behind closed doors, in other words with no public admission to the room concerned.
Only people whose presence is essential to hearings will have access to courthouses and the premises made available to courts and administrative tribunals—accused persons, parties to civil or administrative proceedings, witnesses, and other people whose presence is deemed necessary by the authority hearing the case. People who need to use a specific service, for example to deposit an urgent proceeding, will also be admitted.
People who work in the buildings will continue to have access, along with lawyers, journalists and professionals working in the field of justice.
The new measures concern the Court of Appeal, the Québec Superior Court, the Court of Québec, all municipal courts in the province and all administrative tribunals and public administration bodies that hold hearings as part of their mission.
In addition, to safeguard the rights of all citizens, the Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of Québec have decided to suspend certain prescription and procedural periods, as permitted by law. This means that the legal time limits for instituting civil proceedings or filing a pleading in a civil case will be suspended for the duration of the public health emergency, with the exception of any cases deemed urgent by the courts.
“We have made the decision to limit access to hearing rooms and courthouses as far as possible in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These are exceptional measures that are intended to ensure that essential services are maintained while preserving the rights of all citizens.
In addition, I have contacted the authorities responsible for municipal courts, administrative tribunals and public organizations to remind them of the importance of implementing all the measures announced recently.”
Sonia LeBel, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec
The measures are in addition to those previously announced by the Ministère de la Justice. Québec’s various courts and tribunals will hear urgent cases only, for an unspecified period of time. Similarly, jury selections are suspended until further notice. Procedures have been put in place to inform people whose cases are postponed. Parties should contact their lawyer or the Centre de communication avec la clientèle du Ministère, at 1 866 536‑5140, for more information.
The buildings with restricted access are as follows:
- All courthouses and justice service points in Québec;
- All places where municipal courts sit in Québec;
- All places where administrative tribunals or public administration bodies hold hearings, including the following:
- Commission d'accès à l'information,
- Commission de la fonction publique,
- Commission municipale du Québec,
- Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec,
- Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles,
- Commission des transports du Québec,
- Comité de déontologie policière,
- Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux,
- Régie du bâtiment du Québec,
- Régie du logement,
- Régie des marchés agricoles et alimentaires du Québec,
- Tribunal administratif des marchés financiers,
- Tribunal administratif du Québec,
- Tribunal administratif du travail.
- Ministère de la Justice du Québec : www.justice.gouv.qc.ca
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