Court decisions may be lost in translation – Requesting English Translation of Quebec Court Decision only rendered in French

Photo: Marcos Townsend / Postmedia News files
July 29 2017 – Kevin Yaworski – WiseUpWinnipeg – http://wp.me/p1fJaD-Vz

Here is a related post to the following two important posts about Photo Radar / Enforcement and a link to article about concerning trend in lack of English Translations of important decisions.

Quebec, Canada Court Strikes Down Speed Camera Ticket – Should Shutdown Program

Class Action against Photo Enforcement and Crown knew tickets unlawful

We want to rely on the important R v. Bove decision from Court of Quebec – Montreal (available in first link above) in an important matter of public interest in MBQB but only the French version is available on CanLii and the Justice told us we need to provide an official translation of the decision in English.  He didn’t say anymore about it.

I spent a bit of time trying to find what MBQB accepts as an official translation and I was not able to find anything other than this being a concerning trend in Canada as described below.

The only province that requires publication of any judgements in both official languages is New Brunswick, but only where the proceedings are conducted in both languages or when the judgement deals with a matter of interest or importance to the general public.

Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada (since 1970) and of the Federal Court of Canada are routinely available in official versions in both languages.

http://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/court-decisions-may-be-lost-in-translation/wcm/112a7af3-e58a-4299-8d9a-f2e084198c23

I did find a link to this site on the Quebec Justice Dept website but they do not have this decision listed yet.

http://soquij.qc.ca/fr/services-aux-citoyens/english-translation

Then I found this site to request official translation: https://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/en/programs-and-services/services/requesting-the-translation-of-a-judgment/

Fax the completed and signed form to 514-393-2275

Best to give them at least 30 days notice.  If you were not given enough notice of this requirement yourself include any deadline you have to receive it and they will try and accommodate.

If your matter is related to an unfair or unlawful alleged offense, wrongful conviction and or matter of public interest etc.. I  wish you luck and a favorable decision.

There has been other important cases that were unreported that where favorable for the public and anti-establishment.  Including the one below from Alberta, R. v. Yaworski (MBPC Setp 20 2016), R v. Prescott (MBPC Dec 2016)

Related:

Alberta Crown trying to use law found to be Unconstitutional to silence political speech on social media plus important cases not being reported to the disadvantage of the general public
​Judicial Justice of the Peace behaviour in simple traffic matters

I didn’t have the easiest time finding out the right process to get an official copy of this important Quebec decision so this reinforces the issue with the trend mentioned above.  This decision is unbiased (i.e. Pro Public and Anti Establishment so that may have something to do with this and other important decisions not translated by default).

I followed the instructions to file the request form with the Court the decision was rendered from (Court of Quebec – Montreal).  It didn’t specify an address or fax so I sent it via email to request the translation including completed form.

I didn’t get a response for several days other than auto response and then they replied saying I had to do it in person or fax but didn’t provide a fax number.  I sent to the fax number listed on the courts website but again I did not get any response for a few days so I called as I was running out of time to file with MBQB by a deadline of July 29th.

I had to wait on hold and finally got someone but they said it is another department.  They took my details and said someone would call me back.  They said they though the normal processing time for this request was 30 days but maybe less.  I explained the Courts and Justices requirement / request in MBQB and asked if I could request it be expedited.  He said I would need to put this on the form.

I didn’t get a call back so called again and this time was given a fax number 514-393-2275.  I asked how can I confirm it was received after sending and they said they do not normally confirm.  I said I can’t wait 30 days to find out they didn’t get it.  She gave me and an email address of a person to follow up with.  I did not get permission to share this address from the person so don’t want to post it on here but comment  and I will give it to you.

Once I get the translated decision I will post a link to it and sent to CanLII.
Archive of article if needed.

It 

Court decisions may be lost in translation

July 17, 2012 1:01 PM EDT Filed under: legal

“Decisions rendered in French are rarely translated, so the rest of Canada doesn’t benefit from them even if they are cases of national interest,” says Stéphane Eljarrat, a lawyer in Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP’s Montreal office.


Cases of national interest embrace a broad spectrum. To begin with, they include all the areas of law that are within Parliament’s law-making authority, including criminal law, constitutional law, and decisions under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


“Quebec courts render many decisions on federal law, which applies throughout Canada,” Mr. Eljarrat says.


——-


I was shocked to discover that the lawyer was totally unaware of the case because it had not been translated into English


——–


By way of making his point, Mr. Eljarrat recalls becoming aware of a pending criminal case in the Supreme Court of Canada in which he had an interest. He contacted the Winnipeg lawyer representing the accused to advise him of the only existing Canadian ruling on the point in issue — an decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal that was decidedly in the appellant’s favour.


“I was shocked to discover that the lawyer was totally unaware of the case because it had not been translated into English,” Mr. Eljarrat says.


As it turned out, the hearing had been scheduled for the week following the lawyers’ conversation. The lawyer asked Mr. Eljarrat to translate the case into French, but he declined, citing a lack of time and a concern that — despite his bilingual fluency — he did not have the qualifications to translate at a level that could be relied on by counsel before the high court.


“I emailed the lawyer saying I would be happy to explain the decision to him but he told me not to bother because he had converted the reasons to English using Google’s translation software,” Mr. Eljarrat says.


More recently, the Quebec Superior Court, in the Global Fuels case, rendered a Canadian judge’s first interpretation of broadened Criminal Code provisions governing the criminal liability of corporations — a matter of considerable concern throughout the country.


“When the decision came out a few weeks ago, I had a number of lawyers across Canada emailing and asking for the English version of the decision, but it simply wasn’t available,” Mr. Eljarrat says. “And until someone takes it upon themselves to translate it, that won’t change — and even when it does, it will be a non-official version.”


Although some criminal cases are translated from their original French to English by legal publishers, there is no obligation on the Quebec Court of Appeal or other courts in the province to translate decisions from French to English except in very limited circumstances.


Quebec’s language law allows the use of English or French in court and administrative tribunals, allows them to render judgments in English or French as they choose, and provides for the translation of judgments into English or French at the request of a party to a proceeding.


This framework, however, means that most often an official translation is not available from the court or other authorized source, and even unofficial translations are few and far between.


“There are many cases that could be useful that are not being translated,” says Sébastien Grammond, Dean of the Civil Law Section of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. “Lawyers in common law provinces have a tendency not to search Quebec cases, partly because they assume they’re in French and partly because there’s an attitude that most Quebec cases must be irrelevant because the legal system is totally different than in the English-speaking provinces.”


By contrast, Quebec lawyers routinely access English judgments from other provinces.


“For the most part, Quebec lawyer have a degree of fluency in English that allows them to draw on English-language precedents,” Mr. Grammond says.


Ted Tjaden, National Director of Knowledge Management at McMillan LLP, notes that the case databases most commonly used by lawyers, including a free database of unofficial translations, reveals only 395 translations of French-language decisions from Quebec administrative courts or tribunals.


Writing on the legal blog SLAW, Mr. Tjaden notes that 167 of these decision originate in the Quebec Court of Appeal, 95 in the Quebec Superior Court, 118 in the Court of Quebec, and a smattering from administrative tribunals.


But this having been said, the fact remains that Ontario courts, for example, are no more encouraging of official translations to French than Quebec is of official translations to English.


Ontario legislation parallels Quebec law in providing French-speaking individuals with the right to a proceeding conducted in French. In such a proceedings, a party may have the court translate a judgment rendered in either English or French to the other language.


What that means, of course, is that the even the few French-language judgments rendered in Ontario are not necessarily translated, and it’s unlikely that more than a handful of English judgments are ever translated into French.


The only province that requires publication of any judgments in both official languages is New Brunswick, but only where the proceedings are conducted in both languages or when the judgement deals with a matter of interest or importance to the general public.


Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada (since 1970) and of the Federal Court of Canada are routinely available in official versions in both languages.

About Kevin Yaworski

I use my blog to write about things I find interesting or that I think are matter of public interest.
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3 Responses to Court decisions may be lost in translation – Requesting English Translation of Quebec Court Decision only rendered in French

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