Can law 96 affect the financial field?

Can law 96 affect the financial field?



Law 96 does not directly target the financial field, but the new requirements and restrictions it introduces will affect it. Thus, a prudent investor or manager should be aware of the changes it entails. The following list covers some new requirements – not all – of this law that could affect the financial field.

The language used in business

Bill 96 introduces an explicit obligation for businesses to offer goods and services in French to consumers. It can be expected that this new requirement will be used to fill gaps in the existing requirements and will be applied as a stand-alone requirement.

It specifies that all membership contracts must be drawn up in French, with certain limited exceptions. Under the new regime, the insertion of a standard clause in contracts of adhesion according to which the parties have agreed that the contract will be drafted and executed only in English is no longer sufficient.

Companies will have to present a French version of these contracts before a subscribing counterparty can express the wish to be bound by a version in another language. As soon as a French version of the contract has been presented to a member counterparty and the latter nevertheless expresses the wish to be bound by a version written in another language, in addition to the contract itself, the documents annexed to this contract may also be drafted exclusively in this other language. This provision will come into force on June 1, 2023.

The exception for financial services contracts

The law provides for limited exceptions to the obligation to provide a prior French version of contracts in the financial services sector. In fact, loan contracts and financial contracts aimed at managing risks such as currency or interest rate swap agreements or those concerning the purchase or sale of options are covered by an exemption. . The same applies to contracts entered into on trading platforms for securities or derivatives, for example. Thus, for these types of contracts, the simple mention of the will of the parties to contract in a language other than French is sufficient. A French version of the contract does not have to be presented beforehand.

The exemption for these specialized financial products is intended to allow Québec companies to take part in activities in certain specialized markets. Indeed, in principle, to the extent that the employee carrying out a computer transaction with the New York Stock Exchange, for example, is located in Quebec, the contract will be deemed to have been signed in Quebec. However, contracts received in this context will be in English since they will have been drawn up by international standards.

The language of documents of members of professional orders

In accordance with the new law, members of professional orders are required to provide, at the request of any person authorized to obtain them, French translations of their opinions, reports, expert reports and other documents. If the person requesting the translation is a client who is a business, the latter will have to pay the costs of the translation. If a company has used the services of a member of a professional order, the company must pay the costs of the translation requested by any person authorized to obtain the translated documents. This provision came into force on assent.

The language of the pleadings

According to Law 96, all procedural documents submitted to the courts by companies must be written in French. If the original pleading is written in English, it must be accompanied by a certified French translation, at the company’s expense. The translation must be done by a member of the Order of Certified Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters of Quebec. This provision entered into force on September 1, 2022.

The language of court judgments

Bill 96 introduces the requirement that a French version be attached immediately and without delay to any judgment rendered in English by a court of law when the judgment terminates a proceeding or is of public interest. The State will bear the costs of these translations. This provision will come into force on June 1, 2024.

It should be noted that the above list is not exhaustive. Indeed, several other new requirements are introduced by Bill 96, which must be examined in their entirety.

Julie-Martine Loranger is a lawyer emeritus, with the collaboration of Me Kevin Pinkoski and Nicole Andreina Camacho Chiodi, legal trainee.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

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