Quebec’s new Bill 34 promises to improve access to low-cost or even free legal advice.
The bill, passed Thursday, will make it possible to get legal opinions and advice — not just information — from not-for-profit organizations, such as legal information clinics found in universities or community justice centres.
Professional advice can be provided by lawyers or notaries. If necessary, lawyers can also represent their clients in court.
More and more Quebecers are representing themselves in court because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
Bill 34, sponsored by Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, will also allow 1,400 retired lawyers to provide advice, at little or no cost, full-time or part-time.
Bill 34 received the support of MPs from all parties as it promotes greater access to justice.
The initiative was supported by Hélène Potvin, president of the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
He was also supported by Catherine Claveau, the Quebec “Bâtonnière”, a word used in French-speaking countries to represent the head of the bar.
Liberal opposition spokesman Gaétan Barrette said that while he supports Bill 34, it is not a “one size fits all” remedy for the ills of the justice system.
He said he would be surprised to see many lawyers scrambling to represent clients who cannot afford their services in court.
— This report was first published in French by La Presse canadienne on June 9, 2022.