Civil Code of Quebec

The Civil Code of Quebec (CCQ, French: Code civil du Québec) is the civil code in force in the province of Quebec, Canada, which came into effect on January 1, 1994. It replaced the Civil Code of Lower Canada (French: Code civil du Bas-Canada) enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1865, which had been in force since August 1, 1866.

Civil Code of Quebec
National Assembly of Quebec
CitationS.Q. 1991, c. 64
Royal assent8 December 1991
Commenced1 January 1994
Legislative history
Bill citationBill 125 (34th Legislature, 1st session)
Introduced byGil Rémillard, Minister of Justice
First reading18 December 1990
Second reading4 June 1991
Third reading8 December 1991
Civil Code of Lower Canada
Related legislation
An Act respecting the implementation of the reform of the Civil Code (SQ 1992, c. 57)


The Code's scope is summarized in its preliminary provision:

The Civil Code is in essence a body of rules and regulations that, in all matters treated by or in the spirit or vein of its provisions, sets forth the jus commune, or the law that applies to all of Quebec, either in express or implied terms. For the matters handled by the Code, it acts as the foundation of all other adjacent laws, although other laws may supplement the Code or make exceptions to it.

As the cornerstone of Quebec's legal system, the Civil Code is frequently amended in order to keep in step with the demands of modern society.

Layout and significant changes

The Civil Code of Quebec comprises over 3,000 articles and is structured into major divisions and subdivisions called books, titles, chapters and subsections. The Code is made up of ten books:

  1. Persons
  2. The Family
  3. Successions
  4. Property
  5. Obligations
  6. Prior Claims and Hypothecs
  7. Evidence
  8. Prescription
  9. Publication of Rights
  10. Private International Law

The Code restatement of the civil law in Quebec as of the date of its adoption, including judicial interpretation of codal provisions, that included several significant changes from the former Code:


Adoption of the Civil Code of Lower Canada

The substantive law of the 1866 Civil Code of Lower Canada was derived primarily from the judicial interpretations of the law that had been in force to that date in Lower Canada. The work of the Commission on codification was also inspired by some of the modernizations found in the 1804 Napoleonic code. At the time of Canadian Confederation, the Civil Code of Lower Canada replaced most of the laws inherited from the Custom of Paris and incorporated some English law as it had been applied in Lower Canada such as the English law of trusts. The former Civil Code was also inspired by the Louisiana Civil Code, the Field Code movement in New York, and the Civil Code of the Canton of Vaud (1819).

Revision process (1955–1991)

In 1955, the Government of Quebec embarked on a reform of the Civil Code.[10] The Civil Code Revision Office was established, headed by Thibaudeau Rinfret, a former Chief Justice of Canada.[11] In 1960, the role of the Office was expanded to include the appointment of four codifiers to work on a definitive draft for the new Code.[12]

In 1961, Rinfret stepped down from the Office, and was replaced by André Nadeau who served until his appointment to the Superior Court of Quebec in 1964.[11] Paul-André Crépeau was subsequently appointed to head the Office, where he served until 1977.[11]

The reform process that led to the replacement of the Civil Code of Lower Canada by the Civil Code of Quebec was one of the largest legislative recodification undertakings in any civil law jurisdiction. The Office produced reports, held consultations, and presented a Draft Civil Code with commentaries to the Quebec National Assembly on 15 August 1977.[13] After further consultations during the 1980s, portions of the Book on the Law of the Family were adopted.[14][15] The consultation process continued through to the early 1990s.

Implementation (1991–1994)

The bill to enact the new Code was introduced into the National Assembly of Quebec on 18 December 1990 by Gil Rémillard, who was then Quebec's Minister of Justice. It received royal assent on 8 December 1991. It did not come into force until 1 January 1994, as the necessary legislation to provide transitional rules determining what matters would be subject to the new Code was not passed until 1992.[16]

Harmonization with federal law

The Government of Canada has been undertaking a review of all federal laws that deal with private law to ensure that they take into consideration the terminology, concepts and institutions of Quebec civil law.[17] In that regard, the following Acts have been passed:

  • Income Tax Amendments Act, 2000[18]
  • Federal Law—Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1[19]
  • Federal Law—Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 2[20]
  • Federal Law—Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 3[21]

As part of the first Harmonization Act, the Federal Law and Civil Law of the Province of Quebec Act was passed, which came into effect on 1 June 2001,[22] which:

  • repealed the provisions of the CCLC relating to areas under federal jurisdiction (insofar as they had not been already displaced by other federal Acts)
  • standardized the rules relating to marriage that are to apply in Quebec as though they formed part of the Civil Code

It is estimated that, as of 2011, the federal harmonization project was 46% complete.[23]


  1. CCQ 3541
  2. CCQ 12561298
  3. CCQ 1375
  4. CCQ 22672279
  5. CCQ 26962714
  6. CCQ 2980
  7. "Regulation respecting the register of personal and movable real rights (O.C. 1594-93)". Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  8. "Registre des droits personnels et réels mobiliers" (in French). Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  9. CCQ 31343168
  10. An Act respecting the revision of the Civil Code (S.Q. 1954-1955, c. 47)
  11. "People". Archives of the Civil Code Revision Office, McGill University. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  12. An Act to amend the Act respecting the revision of the Civil Code (S.Q. 1959-1960, c. 97)
  13. "Report on the Quebec Civil Code". Archives of the Civil Code Revision Office, McGill University. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  14. An Act to establish a new Civil Code and to reform family law, (S.Q. 1980, c. 39)
  15. An Act ensuring the application of the reform of family law (S.Q. 1982, c. 17)
  16. An Act respecting the implementation of the reform of the Civil Code (SQ 1992, c. 57)
  17. "Harmonization Acts and related information". Department of Justice (Canada). Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  18. "Income Tax Amendments Act, 2000 (S.C. 2001, c. 17, Part 2)".
  19. "Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1 (S.C. 2001, c. 4)".
  20. "Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 2 (S.C. 2004, c. 25)".
  21. "Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 3 (S.C. 2011, c. 21)".
  22. "Backgrounder: A Third Bill to Harmonize Federal Law with the Civil Law of Quebec". Department of Justice (Canada). Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  23. Élise Hurtubise-Loranger; Dara Lithwick; Julia Nicol (13 October 2011). "Legislative Summary of Bill S-3: Federal Law–Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 3" (PDF). Library of Parliament, Legal and Legislative Affairs Division. Retrieved 1 June 2013.

Further reading

Books (CCLC)

Books (CCQ)


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