Canada: L'adoption du Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile : un Changement Nécessaire Pour une Justice Civile Plus Accessible, Efficace et Rapide

Le projet de loi no 28 instituant le nouveau Code de procédure civile1 (le « Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile ») a été adopté le 20 février 2014. Il s'agit de la première réforme majeure du Code de procédure civile actuel qui date de 1966. Par ce Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile, le gouvernement souhaite contribuer à rendre la justice civile plus accessible, efficace et rapide au Québec.

 Devant cette imposante pièce de législation comportant 830 articles, soit 222 articles de moins, présentés dans un ordre différent de l'actuel Code de procédure civile, nous avons pensé utile de vous sensibiliser aux nouvelles règles qui s'appliqueront aux procédures civiles lorsqu'il entrera en vigueur, à l'automne 2015.

Une emphase sur les modes de règlement alternatifs

Il est frappant de noter que le Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile prévoit dès son premier livre, une série d'articles détaillant la procédure applicable aux modes de privé de prévention et de règlement des différends (articles 1 à 7), qui diffèrent de ceux applicables devant les tribunaux de l'ordre judiciaire.

Il s'agit ici d'un important pas du législateur visant la reconnaissance de l'existence de mode privé et volontaire de prévention et de règlement des différends. Le législateur encourage donc les parties intéressées à prévenir leurs différends à naître ou résoudre un différend déjà né en choisissant d'un commun accord un mode privé, tel que la négociation entre les parties au différend, ou encore, la médiation ou l'arbitrage. Soulignons cependant que le législateur québécois n'a pas prévu de sanctions en cas de défaut par une partie de tenter de régler son différend avant de s'adresser aux tribunaux.

Les principes directeurs de la procédure

 Le Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile édicte à ses articles 17 à 24 des principes directeurs qui s'appliquent à toutes procédures civiles. Ces principes sont le droit d'être entendu et au débat contradictoire, la proportionnalité du recours eu égard aux coûts et au temps exigé par rapport à la nature et à la complexité de l'affaire et la finalité de la demande, la saine gestion de l'instance, la maîtrise par les parties de leur dossier dans le respect des principes, des objectifs et des règles de la procédure et des délais établis. Il est intéressant de noter l'obligation des parties de coopérer et de favoriser un débat loyal.

Les pouvoirs de gestion des juges s'accroissent

La réforme envisage un rôle plus actif des juges dans la gestion des dossiers. Ils pourront, par exemple, faire diminuer le nombre d'interrogatoires et d'expertises, deux éléments maintes fois dénoncés comme sources importantes de frais ou de délais pour le citoyen.

Des mesures concrètes d'accès à la justice

Le Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile prévoit un ensemble de règles dont le but est d'accélérer le processus judiciaire et de l'alléger. À titre d'exemple, il prévoit la présentation de demandes ou de contestations orales, au lieu de procédures écrites plus coûteuses, pour des dossiers ne présentant pas de complexité particulière.

Il favorise le recours à l'expertise commune entre les parties plutôt que la multiplication des expertises, pour limiter les coûts et les délais. Le juge exerce un plus grand contrôle sur le contenu du protocole de l'instance (présentement connu sous le nom d' « échéancier »). Il peut limiter le nombre, la durée et l'étendue des interrogatoires.

Des changements à la Cour du Québec et pour les individus

Le seuil des réclamations pouvant être réclamées à la Division des petites créances de la Cour du Québec passe de 7 000 $ à 15 000 $ tandis que celui de la Cour du Québec fait un bond de 70 000$ à 85 000 $. Le montant fera l'objet d'un ajustement périodique par l'effet de la loi.

Pour finir, le Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile permet désormais à un consommateur, à un assuré, à un salarié ou à un débiteur hypothécaire de présenter son dossier ou de se défendre dans le district de son domicile ou dans celui où est situé l'immeuble

 Un changement nécessaire des mentalités...

Ce virage attendu est ambitieux et vise à répondre à la perception de lourdeur et de difficulté d'accès à la justice qui sont décriés par de nombreux justiciables en raison des coûts inhérents à la façon actuelle de fonctionner.

Les changements fondamentaux qu'apporte cette réforme ne pourront se faire sans la pleine collaboration des justiciables, des entreprises, des avocats et des juges qui sont tous, à leur façon, responsable de veiller que le Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile soit, dans les faits à la hauteur de l'objectif , à savoir « d'assurer l'accessibilité, la qualité et la célérité de la justice civile, l'application juste, simple, proportionnée et économique de la procédure, l'exercice des droits des parties dans un esprit de coopération et d'équilibre et le respect des personnes qui apportent leur concours à la justice ».

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2014

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