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We continue to explore the new rules of civil procedure in Quebec as of January 1, 2016. Today’s feature is tolling agreements.

Based on the Civil Code of Quebec, tolling agreements aimed at suspending limitation by agreement are not possible in Quebec:

2883. Prescription may not be renounced in advance, but prescription which has been acquired or any benefit of time elapsed by which prescription has begun may be renounced.

2884. No prescriptive period other than that provided by law may be agreed upon.

There was nothing in the old Code of Civil Procedure that allowed any leeway from these sections of the Civil Code of Quebec.

However, the New Code of Civil Procedure now seems to allow tolling agreements:

  1. Participation in a private dispute prevention and resolution process other than arbitration does not entail a waiver of the right to act before the courts. However, the parties may undertake not to exercise that right in connection with the dispute in the course of the process, unless it proves necessary for the preservation of their rights.

They may also agree to waive prescription already acquired and the benefit of time elapsed for prescription purposes or agree, in a signed document, to suspend prescription for the duration of the process. Prescription cannot, however, be suspended for more than six months.

This new procedural rule is directly aimed at the core principle of the New Code of Civil Procedure i.e. Dispute Prevention and Resolution. The logic is quite simple, in order to attain the legislature’s goal of enhancing alternative methods of solving disputes, then more time should be allowed to parties to work on finding non litigation solutions.

It will be interesting to see how section 7 of the New Code of Civil Procedure coexists with section 2884 of the Civil Code of Quebec.

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